Eye Witness Testimony

Mark Scheme


·         Factors relating to the event (context, presence of a weapon)

·         Factors relating to the individual (role of emotion, attributional biases)

·         Interference effects (media events, reconstructive memory)

·         Factors relating to recall (interview effects)


·         Evaluation of studies and theories

·         Validity issues in research

·         Usefulness (validity and reliability of recall enhancing techniques) 

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Reconstructive Memory

·         Bartlett (1932) active rebuilding when recalling leads to inaccuracy

·         Carmichael (1932) verbal schemas affect recall

·         Recall is affected by stereotypes about events

·         The scheme is altered in the INITIAL memory, not the recall

·         Turkey and Brewer - We also remember counter stereotypes 

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Facial Recognition

·         Buckhout and Regan (1988) cross race effect

·         Ellis et al (1979) we recall hair line and face shape, not a whole face

·         Young et al (1987) we see a whole face rather than features

·         Facial recognition is altogether poor

·         We cant located where faces are from so they can get mixed with other information sources, eg media

·         Ellis et al – 12.5% accuracy in indentikit photo fits

·         They police photo fit is getting better, emergence of ‘evolution’ systems

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Attributional Bias

·         Focus on internal attributions (FAE)

·         Actor observer effect

·         Barjonet (1980) driver error was not attributed to the situation – support for fundamental attribution error

·         Walster (1966) in cases where there is personal damage, internal attributions increase, actor observer affect

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The Role of Emotion

·         Improves – flash bulb memories

·         Reduces recall – distracts encoding process

·         Yerkes – Dodson law – optimum emotional arousal

·         The weapon effect – Loftus et al (1987)

·         Deffenbaucher et al – high stress reduces recall

·         Recall is worse when a weapon is present 

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Cognitive Interview

·         Geiselman et al (1984) reinstate the context (recall peripheral detail, feeling, reactions) report everything (recall any detail, no matter how trivial) recall in different orders, change perspectives (3rd person)

·         Kohnken et al (1999) the cognitive interview increased recall of both correct and incorrect details, this did not overall affect the accuracy

·         Fisher et al (1989) field study of 16 detectives, after training, significantly more correct information was recalled

·         Overall effective but time consuming

·         Can yield useless information 

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