Affect of anxiety on EWT

  • Created by: Reece
  • Created on: 22-04-13 18:19

Loftus et al procedures

Loftus et al Affect of anxiety on EWT


Loftus used 2 experimental conditions one with a weapon, 1 without. Participants were asked to sit outside the lab where they thought they heard a genuine discussion.

Condition 1: The conversation was peaceful, concerning office supplies. Afterwards a man left the lab holding a pen and with grease on his hands.

Condition 2: The conversation was more heated, participants heard the sound of breaking glass and a man left the lab with a knife and blood on his hands.

All participants were then asked to identify the man from 50 photographs.

1 of 5

Findings affect of anxiety on EWT

Loftus et al Affect pof anxiety on EWT


Loftus found that 49% of participants were able to identify the man with the pen from the 50 photographs.

Loftus also found that only 33% of participants were able to correctly identify the man with the knife from the 50 photgraphs. Showing that memory recall was poorer. 

2 of 5


Affect of anxiety on EWT


Loftus concluded that the weapon may have distracted attention away from the person.

This may explain why there is sometimes poor recall in violent crimes involving a weapon

where anxiety may be heightened.

3 of 5

Evaluation points

Affect of anxiety on EWT (Evaluation points)

Reliable: Loftus' research was conducted in a lab which gave a high degree of control over extraneous variables.

This makes the research easily replicable using the same procedures.

Indeed the experiment has be replicated many times and usually finds the same results -

anxiety negatively affects EWT.

Lacks real life application: Loftus' research has often been criticised as it was conducted in a lab and is therefore artificial. Christian&Hubinette (natural experiment) studied 110 witnesses to 22 real bank robberies and found that witnesses (espicially victims) were very good at remembering events in real life - not in artificial settings.                            They concluded that increased emotional arousal may actually increase accuracy of EWT.

4 of 5

Evaluation points

Affect of anxiety on EWT Evaluation continued...

Control settings lack validity: because of the controlled, artificial environment it is impossible to recreate the exact conditions (shock, surprise, fear etc) of a real EWT for practical & ethical reasons. 

Therefore the settings may lack validity and in turn invalidate the findings.


Ethical reasons: Psychologists can't induce unnecessary psychological harm and must gain informed consent from participants. However as anxiety is a key component of EWT unless occuring naturally, must be induced by the researcher E.G. by watching a video. This may cause psychological harm especially for young children.

Therefore much research in this area may be questionable ethically.

5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »