- Created by: Emma Goddard
- Created on: 17-05-15 11:35
Eyewitness testimony (EWT) is the account a bystander gives in the courtroom which is always a recollection of events to help out with a court case. However, it has been suggested that EWT's aren't always accurate.
Schema theory says that memory recall is not an exact reproduction of an event that has occured, memories are an active process using schema. However, these schemas can lead to distortions in our memory as they have a great effect on the way memories are encoded into our brains, this explains how events are transformed and changed and they can also be linked with past experiences or stereotypes which make EWT's unreliable. For example, List's shoplifting scenario in 1938 shows that we link schemas to stereotypes as showed by rating shoplifting acts in higher and lower probability then our schemas may also leaad to distortions in memory. When evaluating schema theory, one strength is that we use stored knowledge and past experiences to make sense of new memories and that these can be distored because of this natural process. Although, one main problem with this theory is that the concept of schemas are vague and we can't show how schemas are acquired in the first place. Another strength is that the schema theory can be tested scientificallly in a lab like Bartlett's theory. Also, one weakness is that the theory describes the memory as reconstructive but doesn't deal with the processes of the brain.
Information that we receive after a tragic event it seems may also be important in determining the accuracy of EWT as well as the schema that we hold at the time of an event. For example, in Johnson & Scott (1978) study where they tested the influence of leading questions, it revealed that they seem to affect the accuracy of our memory of events just by changing the adverbs. The research tells us that EWT is vulnerable to distortions and that memories of events can be altered. Loftus and Palmer's research has also been found to be…