Eye witness testimony

The effects of anxiety on EWT

Ginet and Verkampt (2007)- Found that eye witnesses with high levels of arousal remembered minor details of the evnt better than those with low arousal. Hint :Minor details

Peters (1988)- Was conducted in a health clinioc where people were recieving inoculations. Partcipants met the nurse and researcher for a brief but equal amount of time. They were then called back a week later to choose the correct photo of each person. Peters found that more people could remember the researcher better as there was no distraction of a syringe. Hint:Inoculation

Yuille and cutshall (1986)- 13 eye witness on a real life shooting of a shop keeper and thief. The participants were stood at varying distances away from the shooting. Those that were stood closer and thought to have higher levels of anxiety gave more accurate accounts of what happened on the day but also 5 months later. Hint :shooting distance

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Evaluating the research of effects of anxiety on E

The evidence appears to be contradictory , with some evidence supporting that anxiety increases accuracy and others disagreeing and stating that anxiety decreases the anxiety.

Three reasons why this may be are:

  • Real life vs experiment-Laboratory studies tend to find that stress and anxiety negatively effect the EWT, however real life situations with high anxiety levels tend to produce better EWT statements.
  • Weapon focus- If there is a weapon involved people tend to focus more on the weapon such as a gun distracting them from key details and so their EWT are generally less accurate.
  • Yerkes dodsons law- A small level of anxiety increases the accuracy of EWT but then high levels can have a negative effect. In violent crimes where anxiety levels are found to be high, the witness may focus on central details and neglect peripheral details.
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Improving EWT by Cognitive interview

Cognitive interview

1) Reinstate the context at that time of day - done by questioning

2) Report everything- often witnesses omit details they feel are irrelevant especially if they do not fit into their schemas.

3) Change the order in which the event is recalled - interrupts schema activation

4) Change perspective-trying to adopt the viewpoint of a different witness, therefore trying to remove schemas

The cognitive interview provides authorities with an interview technique that is less likely to activate schemas and lead to reconstruction than a normal interview.

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Evaluating the Cognitive interview

Geiselman et al (1985)- Compared their cognitive interview with a standard interview technique on 51 partcipants. They watched two violent films and 48 hours later were interviewed either using the cognitive or the normal interview. The results showed a significant increase in the number correct items recalledusing the cognitive interview and a small decreases in the number of confabulated items. However this study lacks ecological validity as participants only watched films of the incidents therfore there may be a lack of emotional involvement. Fischer et al (1989)- Study of a real life cognitie interview performance.Researchers trained police in Florida and compared their interview performance before and after training. After training the police gained as much as 47% more useful information compared to when they had previously been using standard interviewing techniques.Other research:Bekerian and Dennet (1993)- reviewed 27 studies into the effectiveness of cognitive interview schedule and found that cognitive interviewing produced more accurate resukts than oither interviewing tchniques.Holliday (2003) showed children aged 5-9 a video of a childs party. Then interviewed them using cognitve and normal interviewing. Cognitive interviewing got more accurate details.

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