Eye Witness Testimony

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  • Ready-made expectations that help us to understand our world
  • Used to interpret the world, they help us 'fill in the gaps' in our knowledge
  • Stereotypes/jumping to conclusions is an example of schema that operates in everyday life
  • They can lead to inaccurate EWT

Loftus and Pickrell (2003)

  • Aim - Investigate whether autobiographical advertising can make memories become more consistent with images evoked in advertising
  • Procedure - 120 participants who'd visited Disneyland in childhood; divided into 4 groups and asked to evaluate advertising, complete questionnaires & answer questions about a trip to Disneyland
  • Group 1 read fake Disneyland advert featuring no cartoon characters, 2 read fake advert no cartoon characters and were exposed to cardboard figure of Bugs Bunny placed in interview room, 3 read fake advert featuring Bugs Bunny, 4 read fake advert featuring Bugs Bunny and saw the carboard cutout
  • Findings - 50% participants in group 3 and 40% in group 4 remembered or knew Disneyland.
  • Ripple effect occured, those exposed to misleading info concerning Bugs Bunny were more likely to relate Bugs Bunny to other things at Disneyland not suggestind in advert, e.g. seeing Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse together
  • This can't have happened because Bugs Bunny isn't a Disney character
  • Conclusion - the use of misleading info can result in false memories being created
  • Evaluation - memory is vulnerable and malleable
  • Study shows power of subtle association changes on memory
  • Advertisers using nostalgic images to manufacture false positive memories of their products


Anxiety is often associated wit witnessing real-life crimes and can divert attention away from the important features of a situation.

Yerkes-Dodson inverted-U hypothesis

 States that moderate emotional arousal improves detail and accuracy of memory recall up to optimum point and then further arousal causes decline in recall


  • Deffenbacher's meta-analysis (1983) - 21 studies examining role of anxiety in accuracy of EWT; findings show heightened anxiety negatively affects memory of eyewitness; suggests anxiety can divert attention from important features of a situation
  • Ginet and Verkampt laboratory experiment (2007) - produced moderate anxiety in participants by telling tem fake electrodes gave electric shocks; participants recall of minor details in traffic accident viewed on film was superior to that of participants with low arousal by being told fake electrodes were for recording purposes; implies moderate anxiety facilitates EWT


  • Deffenbacher (2004) - reviewed earlier findings and found tem over-simplistic; performed meta-analysis of 63 studies finding…


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