Memory (PART 2)

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Anxiety

Real life events, such as violent crimes, often cause the witness to have high anxiety, which could then greatly affect recall.

A criticism of research into EMT is that it is often done in artificial environments, therefore there's no emotional involvement like anxiety.

Weapons effect - anxiety may divert attention away from the important aspects of an event that has been witnessed. Loftus et al argued that witnesses to violent crimes tend to focus on the weapon being used rather than the culprits face.

Witnessing a crime or accident creates anxiety through physiological arousal within the body. The fight or flight response can be used to explain this, as it triggers our alertness and improves our memory of the event due to the cues that arise from the situation. Therefore anxiety can also positively affect the ability to recall important details.

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Misleading Information

EWT can be affected by experiences occuring after an event, such as leading questions and post-event discussion.

Leading questions increase the likelihood of an influence on an individual's schema. The way a question is worded will then influence them to give a desired answer.

Post-event discussion concerns misleading information being added to a memory after an event has occured, with research indicating that false memories can be stimulated by misleading post-event experiences.

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Evaluating Anxiety using SODG

Supporting - Yuille and Cutshall investigated the eyewitness testimony of real witnesses to see if it was reliable, using real witnesses to a gun robbery. They found that witnesses who reported to have the highest levels of stress were the most accurate. This shows support as it shows that anxiety has a positive effect on recall during eye witness testimonies.

Opposing - Pickel investigated the relevance of the weapon focus effect, where he conducted an experiment using an array of instruments (scissors, handgun, wallet and raw chicken) as hand-held items in a hair dressing video. They found that eyewitness testimony accuracy was poorer in the high 'unusualness' conditions. This shows that weapon focus is due to unusualness rather than anxiety and therefore opposes the theory.

General - demand characteristics are an issue with the research behind this theory, as many crimes are set up within controlled conditions are therefore participants become aware that they are watching a crime, and so may guess the aim. ALSO, much of the research into this theory is conducted as a field study, after an incident has occured. As lots could happen in this time, there are extraneous variables that affect memory. FINALLY, in order to test this theory, an element of anxiety needs to be created within research studies. It can be argued that this is unethical.

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Evaluating Misleading Information using SODG

Supporting - Loftus and Palmer investigated the effect of a leading question about a car accident that implies damage on subsequent recall of speed and of damage caused. They found that leading questions do affect the participant's judgement of car speed. Alos, post event discussion in the form of a leading question can influence eyewitness testimony. This shows support for the theory as misleading information is a factor that affects eyewitness testimony.

Opposing  - Antasi and Rhodes investigated the effect of age on accuracy in EWT. They found that people in the age group 18-25 years and 35-45 years were more accurate than people in the group 55-78 years. However, all participants were more accurate when identifying people of their own age group. This opposes the theory as it shows participant variables and individual differences can have an effect.

General - The stimuli used in studies of EWT could be distressing to an individual and therefore may raise ethical concerns. ALSO, much of research conducted into studying the effects of misleading information takes place in a lab, which lacks validity. HOWEVER, research into EWT can make a positive difference to real people's lives by improving the way the legal system works. ALSO, the theory of misleading information can be useful in real life, as it shows that police officers need to be careful when questioning eye witnesses.

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Cognitive Interviews

Report everything - witnesses are encouraged to discuss every single detail about the vent, even if they don't feel it is important. Any information may be important, and could trigger other memories.

Reinstate the context - the witnesses should be prompted to allow their mind to return to the scene of the crime and imagine the environment again (e.g. weather, feelings). This links to context - dependent and state dependent cues.

Reverse the order - events should be recalled in a different chronological order to the way the event happened, for example from the end to the beginning. This prevents expectations of how the event happened, and also prevents dishonesty as it is a hard task to carry out.

Change perspective - witnesses should recall the incident from the perspective of others e.g. other witnesses or the perpetrator. This would be done to disrupt the effect of a schema upon recall, as a schema would generate certain expectations.

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Evaluating Cognitive Interviews

Strengths - useful application to everyday life - highlights that cognitive interview techniques gain more information from a witness and that more officers should be traine din this technique.

Ethics - the detectives would have interviewed the witnesses regardless, so they were not put under psychological distress from conducting their job.

Ecological validity - conducted in real life situations using detectives and witnesses for real crimes.

Weaknesses - validity - the technique lacks accuracy as it depends on how much of the crime the person saw and other factors that play a role in identification.

Ethics - cognitive interviews often involve a traumatic and distressing experience for the person involved and may provoke discomfort within the interview.

reliability- the cognitive interview technique may not be accurate for all types of crimes. A **** crime may cause extreme distress to the witness, whereas a ****** and run crime may not be appropriate for the CI as it's a very brief encounter with the suspect.

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