Loftus and Palmer: Eyewitness Testimony

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  • Created by: heyamegs
  • Created on: 09-04-13 11:44

This study investigates the effect of leading questions on what people remember.

Experiment One

  • The participants in this study were 45 students. They were shown seven clips, each of different traffic accidents. After each clip, the participants were given a questionnaire which asked them to describe the accident, then answer questions. The critical question was 'about how fast were the cars going when they hit each other?'. One group was given this question, and the other four were asked the same question with a different verb, either 'smashed', 'collided', 'bumped', 'contacted' or 'hit'.
  • The aim of this experiment was to investigate the accuracy of memory.


  • The results showed that the participants answered with a higher speed when a verb such as smashed was used (40.8 mph), rather than when a verb like contacted was used (31.8).
  • This indicates that the form of the question influences the answer, and that persons memory of the event. There were two explanations for this result:
      • Response-bias factors: the different speed estimates occur because the critical word (e.g. smashed or hit) influences or biases a person's response.
      • The memory representation is altered: the critical word changes a person's memory so that his/her perception of the incident is affected - some critical…


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