Eyewitness testimony is a legal term. Study for free with our range of university lectures! Yuille, J.C. and Cutshall, J.L. Free resources to assist you with your university studies! The television network played a 13-second clip of a robbery, produced by Buckhout. The approach focuses on making witness aware of all events surrounding a crime without generating false memories or inventing details. Eyewitness testimony: The influence of the wording of a question. In his study, "Nearly 2,000 witnesses can be wrong",[5] Buckhout performed an experiment with 2,145 at-home viewers of a popular news broadcast. Eyewitness testimony is what happens when a person witnesses a crime (or accident, or other legally important event) and later gets up on the stand and recalls for the court all the details of the witnessed event. Another factor that may influence the accurate memory of a crime in intergroup bias. Ultimately, eyewitness testimony is a powerful tool that has the potential to make or break a case. A schema is a generalization formed mentally based on experience. (2009) concluded that if there is considerable repetition of questions with child witnesses, the accuracy of responses changes significantly and that if children cannot answer a question, they are more likely to fabricate answers with repeated questioning. Participants in the Loftus et al. The proper use of eyewitness testimony is gaining traction, thanks in large part to psychologists' research and testimony. Were his senses equal to the observation? [25], Law enforcement, legal professions, and psychologists have worked together in attempts to make eyewitness testimony more reliable and accurate. Eyewitness testimony. [27], Currently, this is the U.S. Department of Justice's suggested method for law enforcement officials to use in obtaining information from witnesses. This can lead to memory conformity. [24] The approach investigators and lawyers take in their questioning has repeatedly shown to alter eyewitness response. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Remember that some types of information are easier to observe and report on than others. Krähenbühl S.J., Blades, M. and Eiser, C. (2009). (1987). Law and Human Behavior, 10(1/2), 63-78. What Is Eyewitness Testimony? Both groups of participants typically identified an innocent perpetrator who was ethnically dissimilar more often than an innocent Swede. Journals of Gerontology, Series B, 69(3), 338- 347. These witnesses are more likely to experience confirmation bias. The witness in the gun shop event had very accurate and clear memories of the event, which endured over a period of 5 months. A number of studies have attempted to induce stress-related scenarios to study the effects on participants as witnesses, although it could be suggested that this is unethical as it may cause the participants psychological harm. Violent inner-city crime, the figures, and a question of race. There was a lineup of six male suspects, each having a number associated with them. [23] Ten months after the event, the researchers interviewed people about the crash. Tuckey and Brewer found pieces of information that were inconsistent with a typical robbery decayed much faster than those that were schema consistent over a 12-week period, unless the information stood out as being extremely unusual. A blind administrator lineup setting is where the person administering the lineup, i.e. Disclaimer: This work has been submitted by a university student. Did he have the proper social ability to observe: did he understand the language, have other expertise required (e.g., law, military)? 1987) have helped to contribute to the more accurate recall of witnesses. Eyewitness Testimony has been a controversial topic in court cases for as long as I can remember. The New York Court of Appeals was right to hold that expert testimony on eyewitness credibility should not be per se inadmissible. Loftus, E.F., Loftus, G.R. [1] This approach guides the witness over a rigid protocol. To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below: If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: Our academic writing and marking services can help you! The people at home could call a number on their screen to report which suspect they believed was the perpetrator. The malleability of eyewitness accounts demonstrates the excessive inaccuracy of it being used as a vital evidential piece in the courts and criminal justice system. All the information collected can be used to pull photographs of prime suspects or lead to a line up. Krähenbühl, Blades and Eiser (2009) conducted a study with 156 children aged between 4 and 9 years to investigate the effects of repeating questions several times in an interview situation as a witness. In the event of witnessing a crime, it happens so quickly one can be susceptible to being in a state of shock. Indeed, research on eyewitness testimony as admitted in a court of law focuses on the acquisition or the incident of observation, the time that elapses after observation (retention), and the presentation of testimonies (retrieval) (Jones, 2014). To reduce this tendency for a juror to quickly accuse, and perhaps wrongly accuse, choosing to utilize expert psychological testimony causes the juror to critically appraise the eyewitness testimony, instead of quickly reaching a faulty verdict. Composing the lineup is straight forward. Eyewitness testimony is the account a bystander or victim gives in the courtroom, describing what that person observed that occurred during the specific incident under investigation. One way is a person's memory being influenced by things seen or heard after the crime occurred. The interviewer then asks follow up questions to clarify the witness' account, reminding the witness it is acceptable to be unsure and move on. Therefore, if something unusual is seen Loftus, Loftus and Messo (1987) argue that a witness will pay more attention to the unusual object. "Jurors" often appear to correlate the confidence level of the witness with the accuracy of their testimony. In a second study, it was found that participant’s memory for events was poorer in the weapon scenario than in the cheque condition which according to Loftus et al. There may also be concerns about older people as West and Stone (2013) for example, report that young adults are more accurate in their recall as witnesses than older adults. Probably only a suspect’s signed confession can further convince a jury about that individual’s guilt. Systematic variables are variables that are, or have the possibility of, being controlled by the criminal justice system. Bartlett summarized this issue, explaining, [M]emory is personal, not because of some intangible and hypothetical persisting ‘self ’, which receives and maintains innumerable traces, restimulating them whenever it needs; but because the mechanism of adult human memory demands an organisation of ‘schemata’ depending upon an interplay of appetites, instincts, interests and ideas peculiar to any given subject. (2003). Every time a witness reflects on an event, it is only natural that the memory can begin to fade or be changed due to reconsolidation. Jurors often find eyewitness testimony(EWT) vitally important in making their decision and yet in 75 per cent of cases where individuals have been found by DNA evidence to have been wrongly convicted, the original guilty verdict was based on inaccurate EWT. Witness expectations are to blame for the distortion that may come from confirmation bias. To do their part, the following are specific ways that they have suggested eyewitness identification can be more reliable. The effects of repeated questioning on children’s accuracy and consistency in eyewitness testimony. Facial recognition is a good indicator of how easily memories can be manipulated. The lineup procedure should be documented by any means available. (1987) emphasises the focus on weapons. They were then were asked questions about the accident using different verbs to describe the accident such as, ‘how fast were the cars going when they smashed/hit/bumped each other?’ (Loftus and Palmer, 1974, p.586). A review of the literature undertaken by Deffenbacher, Bornstein, Penrod and McGorty (2004) undertook a review of studies that investigated the effects of stress on eye witnesses and found support for the negative effects of stress on accurate recall. legally important event) and later gets up on the stand and recalls for the court all the details of the witnessed event It can be used to determine how, when and where the felony was committed. Though no cameras caught the moment of impact on film, many news stations covered the tragedy with footage taken after impact. Ideally this recollection of events is detailed; however, this is not always the case. Was his physical location suitable to sight, hearing, touch? The different words implied that the car was travelling at different speeds with some words implying a faster speed than other words. [32], Account a witness gives in the courtroom of what they observed, The "double-blind" procedure or use of a blind administrator, The lineup procedure should be documented, "Memory and law: what can cognitive neuroscience contribute? Reconstruction of automobile destruction: An example of the interaction between language and memory. When implemented correctly, the CI showed more accuracy and efficiency without additional incorrect information being generated. SUPREME COURT NEWS The state Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion by Chief Justice Michael E. Vigil, today affirmed a man’s convictions for killing two Santa Fe teenagers and adopted a new standard for determining whether eyewitness identification of a criminal suspect will be admitted as evidence at trial. It showed that when a woman was recalling information about a woman, the resistance to false details was higher and the recall was more accurate. Callers also had the option of reporting if they did not believe the perpetrator was in the lineup. Krähenbühl et al. Saunders et al believe that jurors tend to place too much faith in eyewitness testimonies; however the problem lies with whether eyewitness testimony is a reliable source of evidence to use [17]. [15] Bartlett viewed schemas as a major cause of this occurrence. This means that if someone is not repeating everything they just witnessed over and over again to convert it over into their working or long-term memory, there is a good chance they can only remember the basic facts of the situation. Observing a weapon in a crime may cause a witness considerable stress and this may have an effect on their ability to accurately remember details. Roughly the same percentage of participants chose suspects 1, 2, and 5, while the largest group of participants, about 25 percent, said they believed the perpetrator was not in the lineup. A witness’ report of what took place on that fateful day can prove that the crime was really committed. Thus if, as in some pathological cases, these active sources of the ‘schemata’ get cut off from one another, the peculiar personal attributes of what is remembered fail to appear. Journal of Social Psychology, 138(6), 710-723. As an official investigation launches, police ask many questions ranging from race to weight of the perpetrator. Critical analysis of police interviewing techniques. New Mexico’s highest court adopted a “per se… (2010). With DNA testing, many individuals initially identified by eyewitnesses as being the perpetrator have subsequently been found to be innocent (Wells and Olson, 2003). and Messo, J. As the study was conducted in a laboratory, it is possible that the stress experienced by witnesses to violent events is greater in real-life crime and therefore, suggests that accurate recall may be impaired. She mainly focuses on the integration of misinformation with the original memory, forming a new memory. [3] Decades later, DNA testing would clear individuals convicted on the basis of errant eyewitness testimony. (1987). This means that eyewitness testimony should be considered a valuable and relevant part of court procedure. Reference this. Over the entirety of the study, the eyewitness testimony became more unreliable as the online interviews were conducted and therefore reflect unreliability overall. The use of schemas has been shown to increase the accuracy of recall of schema-consistent information but this comes at the cost of decreased recall of schema-inconsistent information.[17]. Loftus, E.F. (1986). We are still at a loss as to why so few of them realized this. Alderson (2010) reports that the majority of men held for violent and sexual crimes in inner city London between 2009 and 2010 were black, however, black men have also been found to constitute the greatest number of victims of crime (e.g. Fisher, R.P., Geiselman, R.E. Among children, suggestibility can be very high. and Stone, K.R. For example, Lindholm and Christianson (1998) found that witnesses of a mock crime who did not witness the whole crime, nevertheless testified to what they expected would have happened. This recollection is used as evidence to show what happened from a witness' point of view. The question at hand is what about an event makes it so easy for eyewitness testimonies to be misremembered. Despite their considerable strengths, however, witnesses do make errors. If you and other witnesses are required to stay at the scene of the crime, you are more likely to talk to more and more people about their perspective. The perpetrator was suspect number 2. Do his statements seem inherently improbable: e.g., contrary to human nature, or in conflict with what we know? [1] One prominent pioneer was Hugo Münsterberg, whose controversial book On the Witness Stand (1908) demonstrated the fallibility of eyewitness accounts, but met with fierce criticism, particularly in legal circles. Copyright © 2003 - 2020 - UKEssays is a trading name of All Answers Ltd, a company registered in England and Wales. Eyewitness testimony is a specialized focus within cognitive psychology. Anything that a witness or victim could potentially remember is crowded by a number of factors: time of day, was there enough light to really see the event, number of people surrounding them, what would have made the perpetrator's features stand out in crowd? an officer, does not know who the suspect actually is. If a witness cannot correctly identify the source of their retrieved memory, the witness is seen as not reliable. The findings showed that there was a high degree of support for the children’s allegations which was matched to audiotapes and photos of the abuse (Bidrose and Goodman, 2000). The solution reached by the Court of Appeals is to leave the matter to the discretion of the trial judge. This can involve recounting events that took place or identifying a suspect from an identity parade. Hence, eyewitness testimony is largely one of the reasons as to why innocent individuals are thrown in prison. That answer is technically correct as a matter of evidence law: trial judges have broad … Wells, G.L. (emphasis added) In so doing, however, this updating mechanism may also contribute to changes and distortions in memory over time as a consequence of memory reactivation. Some of her most convincing experiments support this claim: As early as 1900, psychologists like Alfred Binet recorded how the phrasing of questioning during an investigation could alter witness response. Did he give incidental or casual information, almost certainly not intended to mislead? Studies by Scheck, Neufel, and Dwyer showed that many DNA-based exonerations involved eyewitness evidence.[4]. A further problem is that of the methodology used when researching eyewitness testimony which is predominately undertaken in a laboratory and may not be generalisable to real-life situations. The study supports Bartlett and the way in which witnesses can reconstruct their memories with their previous knowledge. Eyewitness testimony can be used as evidence in court. All people chosen to participate in the lineup should look like the initial descriptions of eyewitnesses. In a similar study, Loftus and Zanni (1975) reported that more participants said they had seen the broken headlight, rather than participants who were asked if they had seen a broken headlight, even there was no broken headlight in the film. 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