Eye Witness Testimonies

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Weapon Focus

Loftus 1979

Procedure: One group witnessed a quiet discussion and a man coming out the office with a pen. Another group witnessed a loud discussion and man coming out with a knife.

Findings: 49% of people in group one correctly identifies the man, whereas 33% of group 2.

Conclusion: The witness concentrates on the weapon which distracts attentions from the appearance of the perpetrator.

Evaluation: Loftus and Burns, participants who watched a more violent film recalled less accurately.

Christianson and Hubinette study (next card) with more ecological activity contradicts this findings.

.Participants were decieved, were at risk of psychological harm from seeing a knife.

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Christianson and Hubinette

Procedure: They interviewed 110 witnesses who had witnessed 22 genuine robberies.

Findings: Victims (more anxious) were more accurate in recall than bystanders (less anxious).

This was evident even after a 15 month period.

Conclusion:People are accurate at recalling when anxious in real life.

Evaluation: High ecological validity, peroid after means more reliable, low internal validity

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1. We "fill in" gaps of missing information based on pervious experience

2. We ignore aspects which aren't attached to the schema

3. We can remember something as a central thing without the details.

4. We distort memories to make the fit in with prior expectations.

5. We can use schemas as the basis for a correct guess due to likelihood.

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Brewer and Treyons

Procedure: 30 participants waited in a room for 35 seconds. They were then asked to recall all that had been in the room.

Findings: Participants were more likely to recall things that fitted in with the office schema than the things that didn't.

Conclusion: People use schemas to ensure quick encoding which results in inaccurate recall so that typical things that fitted into the schema were recalled even when not actually present.

Evaluation: High internal validity, low ecological validity artificial stimulus 

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Age of WItness

Children have lack of schemas to help them make links, although this stops inaccurate filling in of information.

Amount of information recalled increases with age.

Childhood amnesia, inferior encoding, storage and retrievel capabilities less accurate after delay than adults.

When asked a leading question they are more likely to give the answer implied by the question than adults. 

If 3-6 year olds are repeatadly given false information they will incorporate it into their emories.

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Leading Questions

Loftus and Palmer 1

Showed participants a film of a car accident and changed the word hit to either smashed, collided, bumped or contacted. The wording affected the estimation of speed.

Loftus and Palmer 2

Showed participants a car accident and asked did you see a broken headlight vs did you see the broken headlight. People who saw the version with no broken headlight were twice as likely to report yes to the leading question.

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Concequences of Testimony

Foster et all tested a study where participants were shown a video of a robbery. One group was told that their responses would influence the trial and the other assumed it was a simulation. Identification was more accurate in the group that were told their responses would have concequences.

Koriat and Goldsith showed that inaccuracy decreases if participants aren't forced to give an answer. Witnesses are more accurate if given cues.

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