EWT: Anxiety

  • Created by: Megs555
  • Created on: 15-12-16 12:38

Negative Effects of Anxiety - Johnson + Scott

Johnson and Scott - Negative effects


  • PP's sat in a waiting room.
  • They each hear and argument in another room
  • High-anxiety condition (HAC): glass breaks, man walks out with knife + blood on his hands.
  • Low-anxiety condition (LAC): man held a pen with grease on his hands.


49% in LAC able to identify.

33% in HAC

Tunnel theory: witnesses attention is on the weapon as it is a source of danger.

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Positive Effects of Anxiety - Yuille + Cutshall

Yuille + Cutshall - Positive Effects


  • Real-life crime in which a thief was shot dead.
  • 13 witnesses participated + interviewed 4-5 months after the crime.
  • Accounts were compared to police interviews done at the time of the crime.
  • PP's rated how stressed they had felt.


Witnesses were very accurate after 5 months.

PP's who reported the highest levels of stress were the most accuarate.

88% - 75%

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Evaluation Negative

Johnson + Scott's study may test suprise not anxiety

PP's may focus on a weapon because they're surpised not scared. Pickel: EWT accuracy poorer for high unusualness. Weapon focus is due to unusualness + therefore tells us nothing about the effects of anxiety.

Field studies lack control of variables

Real-life witnesses are interviewed sometime after the event and could have had time to talk to each other/read the news. This may influence their accounts. Extraneous variables may be responsible for (in)accuracy of results.

Ethical issues

Creating anxiety subjects PP's to Psychological harm. Real-life studies are beneficial as there's no need to create a situation. Raises issues about conducting such research.

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Evaluation Negatives

The inverted-U is too simplistic

Anxiety difficult to measure as it has too many elements. IU assumes one of these is linked to poor performance. Fails to account for other factors on the accuracy of memory.

Demand characteristics may effect results

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Explaining contradictory evidence

Inverted-U theory - Yerkes + Dodson

Relationship between performance and arousal/stress is curvilinear, rather than linear.

Affects Memory - Deffenbacher

Lower levels of anxiety produce lower levels of recall accuracy.

Recall accuracy increases up to an optimal point.

Decline in accuracy is seen when anxiety is higher than the optimal point.

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