Eyewitness testimony

Report on Psychological Research into Eyewitness Testimony

Eyewitness testimony is the study of how accurately a person may remember significant events that they have witnessed occurring. In the circumstance of an individual witnessing a crime it is very important that the assertion they provide of information that they remember is accurate, as with a court their data will highly impact jurors. By learning eyewitness testimony psychologists have had the opportunity to see the factors behind inaccurate reports created by witnesses; this research can show the court that so much weight shouldn't be placed on an eyewitness' accounts, and can help prevent errors happening so frequently in the justice system. The main areas that psychologists consider may influence the ram are reconstructive recollection, leading questions in interviews, and effects from dread or stress. Research into these areas allows psychologists to comprehend how the brain and memories of an eyewitness functions, therefore to modify current methods used within eyewitness testimony appropriately. This assists to increase the consistency of accounts given by eyewitnesses, using results of relevant investigations as a good basis.

Reconstructive storage area is the idea that recollections may be distorted by a person's previous knowledge or expectations surrounding an event. Bartlett (1932) suggested this notion as memory affecting active reconstruction and interpretation of occasions. Instead of only recalling the actual facts that people observed or know to acquire happened, memory draws after understanding and knowledge that people already have in our minds of previous similar situations (commonly known as schemas). The impact of your schema in eyewitness testimony can happen as the see creates a 'storage area' of what happened- in the occurrence a thief may have snatched a woman's handbag and try to escape, but because of the past knowledge and experience stored with a schema that assault is often involved in these kind of attacks, the see may lay claim to have observed the attacker drive the victim, although contact was never made.

A key analysis in to the reconstructive storage area and the influence of schemas was performed by Bartlett (1932). He used a folk storyline to test the effects of unfamiliarity on the individuals' recall. Individuals, who were all British, were told a normal UNITED STATES folk story known as "The Battle of the Ghosts". The storyline used words and ideas that the British participants wouldn't normally be familiar with, as they would not normally feature in normal Western reviews that they could have previously listened to. Bartlett allowed for a 2o hour period to elapse before asking the members to recall the story; this amount of time would allow any effects of schemas and reconstructive memory space to take place. After the first recall, members were asked to duplicate the story a number more times.

Bartlett discovered that participants changed the initial story in lots of ways. The dialect and narrative techniques they used were typical of the cultural and literacy qualifications. Moreover; rationalizations, omissions, changes of passage order, alterations in the value of portions, and distortions of heroes' feelings were made. Each time the storyline was retold, individuals would make further alterations to the text, making it increasingly turn into a more traditional British story.

This shows the way the individuals used schemas and reconstructive memory to take the initial history and unconsciously rewrite it in their thoughts to make it more coherent and easily remembered for these people. Ideas that they hadn't previously experienced were either lost or reformed to fit with their preset objectives.

This test is important in detailing the idea of reconstructive memory space, and it also shows the unreliability of eyewitness testimony. If a new report can be modified unconsciously to such a level after being heard only once, it suggests that after experiencing a new event, such as an assault or robbery, the memory could eventually do the same. This might imply that details an eyewitness has provided can't be entirely trusted due to the dynamics of the human memory and the concept of reconstructive memory space.

Gauld and Stephenson (1967) criticised Bartlett's research as they found that if the individuals were told that appropriate recall was important then your numbers of errors made were significantly reduced. However, regarding eyewitness testimony the result might not exactly be the same. The witness usually understands the importance of reliability in the info they are presenting and is often reminded of the fact, yet true to life cases and laboratory studies have shown that recall is still not entirely appropriate.

It in addition has been said that because of the character of Bartlett's experiment the results might not be dependable. He used a tale that he considered to be meaningless to the people living in England, although this assumption may be correct there was no way of calculating how meaningless it was to every individual. For this reason people may have been able to associate, or never to relate to the storyplot, across a spectrum; this may have changed the results without justification- people who realized a certain part of the story much better than others were more likely to remember it.

Further research was done into schemas in 1981 by Brewer and Treyens whose aim it was to get the ramifications of schemas on aesthetic memory. Their experiment involved exhibiting 30 participants an area one by one, each person stayed in the area for 35 moments. The room they entered came out like an office, comprising 61 items- some that you might expect in an office (e. g. a office, a calendar or a typewriter), some that were more unconventional (e. g. a set of pliers, a skull and a brick). In recall lab tests it was discovered that individuals were easily able to remember the standard office items, however were less successful at naming the arbitrary items.

This was due to the schema expectancy- the standard items had high schema expectancy for an office therefore were remembered effectively. The positions of items recalled were also adjusted to match the participant's schema, including the notepad being said to be located on the workplace when it is at reality on the seating.

Brewer and Treyens discovered that the participants automatically used schemas to be able to remember the things in the room. They assumed because of the schemas that the area was an office, therefore when asked to recall the items in the area, used knowledge using their schema of standard office items. This resulted in the arbitrary items being ignored and other objects that didn't are present being created.

Once again this shows how eyewitness testimony may be afflicted. The schema a witness has of an event may have an effect on the accuracy of these recall when retelling the event. There is absolutely no guarantee of accuracy and reliability in their affirmation, but witnesses are still used among the most reliable sources of information in judge cases.

Schemas aren't the only impact over someone's memory when trying to recall a meeting; they could become entwined with bogus or deceptive information offered by others. Loftus (1993) proven this in an experiment known as 'Lost in the Shopping center'. The purpose of the research was showing how the human being brain can be manipulated primarily by others, and then regularly by schemas to form false remembrances of happenings that never occurred.

Loftus used five participants in the pre-test experiment, selecting university students to be the experimenters. Above the Thanksgiving holidays they would imprint false recollections on a younger sibling (the participant) and then record the results.

One of the children, named Chris, was persuaded over the vacation by his aged brother, Jim, that he previously been lost in a shopping mall at age five. Just two days and nights after being informed of this phony event for the first time, Chris was able to recall the "memory" in great aspect. He was reported by Jim to get said, "That day I used to be so scared I'd never see my family again. I recognized that I was in big trouble. "

The following day he was also in a position to recall conversations along with his mother from after the mall scenario, proclaiming, "I remember mom telling me never to do this again. "

The memory were stronger after a few weeks had transferred and Chris was invited to the laboratory. He was able to recall specific bits of information in great fine detail, fully thinking that the problem had actually happened, "I used to be with you folks for another and I think I went over to go through the toy store, the Kay Bee toy and uh, we got lost, and I was searching and I thought, 'uh oh, I'm in trouble now'. You know. And I. . . I thought I had been never going to see my children again. I was really scared you understand. And this old man, he was putting on blue flannel, emerged up if you ask me. . . he was kind of old. He was kind of bald at the top. . . he had a diamond ring of gray hair. He had eyeglasses. "

This pre-test test shows how a short idea (being lost in the shopping center) was moulded by an over-all schema into a 'wrong storage area' that the participant could recall in much more detail than the original suggestion. The facts that was not provided by the experimenter were packed in by the participant's mind to create a coherent version of the storyline, much more sophisticated than the previous account and intensely based on the participant's own schema. Their knowledge of a situation where someone could become lost in the shopping center, and how the situation might have been solved developed the rest of the story and replaced any uncertain spaces. They recognized from the experimenter that the event occurred and that they were safely delivered to their family, however the idea of their rescuer, why they were lost and how they had become lost was totally fabricated by the mind.

In the actual experiment twenty-four individuals were selected. Each individual was offered four paragraphs- three of these told of distinct real occasions that occurred when the participant was youthful (written by the family) and the fourth was a wrong account of being lost in the mall.

Having read the four tales the participant was asked to write down any recollections they had, giving as much detail as you can, and simply to rely "I don't remember this" if they had no memories.

The results confirmed no statistically significant results, however the information of the bogus memories was intriguing. Exactly like Chris got in the pre-test, recollections had been confabulated so much it was clear the participants thought in the hoax, because of the unconscious workings of their schemas. So although the info had not been quantitative (for the reason that it did not signify the results well numerically), the qualitative fine detail provided much evidence of the use of schemas that Loftus had envisioned.

Although it could be argued that the Lost in the Shopping center experiment wasn't moral as the individuals didn't know they were in an investigation, therefore had no ability to withdraw if indeed they wished, Loftus has given psychology a key insight into the way the human head works. Information from this experiment can be used to judge the trustworthiness of your eyewitness account. Just like with the participants, the eyewitness may have "filled in the blanks" in their mind to make the crime they witnessed into a coherent account. This may lead to people who weren't involved with reality being from the crime in a ram, or serves of violence taking place that hardly ever really happened.

Eyewitness testimony is the research that studies the accuracy and reliability of memory space after an incident or significant event has occurred. The region is considering the way schemas and reconstructive memory work, and how the mind unconsciously fills in blanks over details that we are doubtful of.

Evidence in addition has shown how witnesses may be damaged by information they acquire after the criminal offense. Memory space distortion may be caused by interrogation (either through a law enforcement interview, or from talking to friends), reading information about the circumstance individually, or by generally being mixed up in ongoing exploration (therefore being affected by fragmented details being advised or otherwise brought up).

This section of psychology is known as to be so important because of the amount of weight an eyewitness' bill can have in the courtroom setting up. Baddeley (1997) discovered that 74% of suspects were convicted across 300 distinct instances where eyewitnesses possessed recognized them, providing the only data against them.

If reconstructive storage can be better grasped, then eyewitness testimony wouldn't be observed as one of the most reliable resources of research, but instead would be cared for with extreme caution, as it should oftentimes.

Loftus has conducted much research into misleading post-event information, thought to be one of the key causes of memory distortion. The tests were completed in laboratories so that real-life situations could carefully be mimicked to get the most dependable results possible.

Loftus (1975) showed a film clip of a vehicle accident to 150 participants. These individuals were split into two groups showing the consequences on the indie variable (in this analysis it was the question asked by the experimenters). One group was asked a question that was steady with the film they had seen ("How fast was the white sports car heading when it approved the 'Stop' signal?"). Whilst the second group were asked a deceptive question regarding a false piece of information ("How fast was the white sports car heading when it handed the barn when traveling along the country highway?").

After one week had transferred, all the members went back to the laboratory to be asked ten more questions. The final, and key, question was "Did you visit a barn?". Although there is no barn in the film clip, the first group responded to with a 2. 7% total 'yes', as performed 17. 3% of the second group.

This showed the way the second group was more likely to remember a barn being in the film as that they had originally been suggested the idea weekly previous. Over this time the storage area of the barn possessed become imprinted in their appropriate memory space, until they assumed they actually observed the barn in the incident.

The first group, who was not asked the misleading question, demonstrated a much lower rate of inaccurate recall. It is because the barn had not been recommended to them before, and so had not become imprinted on the memories.

Loftus (1978) completed a second similar experiment; with the aim to see if participants would inaccurately recall a meeting if fed deceptive questions, compared to those who was not otherwise influenced. The procedure this time engaged the participants once again being split into two separate categories. Both communities were shown a set of slides before a car accident, but also for one group there was a difference in one of the slides. Whilst one group saw a red car halting at a 'Yield' indication at a junction, the other group observed the car stopping at a 'Stop' indication at the junction.

Having seen all the slides, every participant was given twenty questions. Each of the two categories was divided again to produce four organizations- (i. e. 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B). Within these twenty questions there was one critical question- the first 50 % of the organizations (1A, 2A) were asked "Did another car move the red one although it was ceased at the 'Stop' sign?" and the next 50 percent of the communities (1B, 2B) were asked "Did another car cross the red one although it was ceased at the 'Yield' signal?". So overall half of the members were given misleading questions (having 'Yield' recommended having been offered the 'Stop' glide), and the spouse of the participants received a question consistent with what they had actually seen (having 'Produce' be recommended having been offered the 'Produce' glide).

Twenty minutes later the participants were involved in a recollection test. They were required to view fifteen pairs of slides, also to pick from each pair the one they had seen in the original presentation. These fifteen slides included the critical slip, whether the car halted at a 'Produce' sign or a 'Stop' indication.

Loftus found that 75% of the members who were given questions steady with the slides that they had seen in the initial presentation were able to correctly pick the glide that corresponded to their group. Of these who received misleading questions, only 41% could accurately pick the slip that corresponded with their group.

These results allowed Loftus to conclude that the misleading question caused the right information being changed in the storage by incorrect information. It had been also stated that over time the result of misleading questions becomes more pronounced.

This research is supported by other studies, so the evidence provided is considered to be reliable. Loftus and Loftus (1980) discovered that accuracy did not increase amongst those who had been misled, even when money was offered for picking the right slip- they truly believed in the phony storage and couldn't be swayed; there is no uncertainty over what they appreciated.

However it can also be said that although nearly all misled participants chose the incorrect slide, some where still in a position to accurately remember the original slides therefore pick effectively.

This effect is applicable in the circumstances of being shown static slides, however it is doubtful what effects would be viewed in a real life situation.

Another factor considered to be significant in altering storage is leading questions. Loftus proposed the idea that terms used to question witnesses may impact on the recollection. This is showed by Loftus and Palmer (1974).

There were forty-five members mixed up in investigation, which were shown seven 5-30 second long clips of traffic crashes. After each clip these were asked to write a merchant account of the incident and answer specific questions. The critical question was relating to the rate of the vehicles "About how fast were the automobiles heading when they *insert verb* each other?". There were five groups of participants used to show the independent adjustable (because of this experiment the impartial variable was the verb used within the critical question). For each group one of the following verbs was inserted into the question: smashed, collided, bumped, struck or approached.

The results proved a positive relationship with the implied power of the crash and the common estimation of the vehicles' quickness. So for the 'smashed' group the common speed was believed to be 40. 8 mph, whilst for the 'contacted' group the average speed was predicted to be 31. 8 mph.

A week later the participants were asked if they experienced seen any cracked glass. Results proved that their answer depended on the depth of the crash originally implied through the first level of the experiment. Although there is no broken a glass in the film footage, those from the 'smashed' condition replied 32% 'yes', and those from the 'strike' condition replied only 14% 'yes'.

Psychologists have argued that Loftus' research is too artificial and does not truly represent how a person or witness would behave in a real-life situation. Contrary to popular belief, Loftus also claimed that the effect of post-event information was because a new memory substituted the old one, but since 1991 she has decided with the view of many other psychologists that the false memory simply obscures the correct old memory space.

The consequences of anxiety and stress may occur in the subject area of eyewitness testimony. Freud proposed the theory that individuals may unconsciously thought we would forget an event they have found particularly anxiousness provoking or troubling in order to avoid psychological destruction- he called this 'repression'. However credited to honest and practical issues it is hard to demonstrate this theory or offer an evidence towards the theory. As an anxiousness provoking situation can't be induced, only members who are ready and who have already experienced a suitably traumatic event can be analyzed. The suggestion of repression boasting in eyewitness testimony continues to be significant though, as eyewitnesses tend to be trying to remember a particularly frightening event.

Loftus (1979) used the 'weapon target' study to investigate the power of an individual recall information after an psychologically arousing situation. Members waited outside a lab to take part in an investigation, but as these were holding out a staged man exited the room carrying either a pen or a blood-covered newspaper knife.

After this event individuals were necessary to identify the person from a couple of fifty photographs. There is a considerable difference between the two units of results- those who witnessed the man hauling a pen were 49% correct in recognising his picture, whilst those who witnessed the man transporting a blade were only 33% accurate.

From this Loftus was able to conclude that the panic that originated from seeing the man carrying a weapon reduced the total amount the witness centered on, and they also paid less attention to the man's identity as these were distracted by the blood-stained blade.

There have been many concerns within the ethics of this experiment, as members could have been psychologically harmed by the knowledge and were not able to withdraw from the test as these were unaware it had already begun when they were still waiting outside the laboratory.

Although other studies support Loftus' summary, those investigations only brought on mild annoyed to the individuals, and so can't be compared on a single size as Loftus' test.

Contradictory to Loftus' research, Christianson and Hubinette (1993) found out that the victims of real crimes were able to recall the event more effectively than the bystanders who acted as eyewitnesses. This shows that although the victim was more likely to be traumatised by the function and discover it more anxiousness provoking, these were able to keep in mind the details more precisely.

In individual investigations in to the aftereffect of stress over a witnesses storage studies have been used to prove the Yerkes-Dodson Law, which suggests that whenever stress is suprisingly low, recall is poor. Recall increases when the level of stress is modest, but once the stress reaches a certain threshold the exactness of recall comes back to poor.

Peters (1988) attempted to show this throughout a nurse's clinic. The topic would enter the area, where in fact the nurse and a researcher were waiting around. The nurse would then administer an treatment and the topic would be allowed to leave. Later on the participant was asked to identify both the research and the nurse who was simply present. Results show that the individuals were significantly more able to recognise the research and effectively identify them than these were the nurse. This is because the nurse was from the high level of stress induced by getting an shot, whilst the researcher didn't have this link.

Yuille and Cutshall (1986) contradicted these finding with their own test into how degrees of stress damaged the recall of witnesses at an armed robbery. Between four and five weeks after the robbery had occurred the witnesses were interviewed by psychologists. Through the interviewing process these were asked two deceptive questions (which according to Loftus (1978) must have brought on inaccurate recall). However, Yuille and Cutshall found that the questions did not have an impact on the recall of the witnesses; very few of the facts were kept in mind inaccurately or were reconstructed by the post-event recommendation. From this review it was concluded that there was no clear marriage between the levels of stress experienced by witnesses and the precision of recall in later interviews.

It really is difficult to accurately research the response and trustworthiness of witnesses because the test conditions must be in a lab (a genuine event can't be induced with regard to a psychological investigation credited to ethics and practicality). This means that the response of the participants is never heading to be exactly like that of a genuine witness. Understanding that they are getting involved in a study into psychological theories can lead to less correct recall, or results that no show a true representation of a real-life situation.

This was shown through Foster et al's (1994) review, where two groups of individuals were shown footage of a standard bank robbery. Whilst one group were educated that the robbery was real, the other group assumed it was only a simulation. The group who thought the robbery to be real (and were led to think that the responses they offered would be used as research in a judge trial) could actually identify the robber more accurately than the next group. This demonstrates it is important for a person to learn the consequences of their identification for accurate recall, meaning that real witnesses will perform better in recall checks than participants of a psychological analysis.

The difference between recall in laboratories and in an genuine witness-situation was shown by the evaluation of results collected by Peters (1988) in lab research, and results accumulate by Yuille and Cutshall (1986) in a study following an equipped robbery.

These examples show the unreliability of the study completed in a laboratory compared to the reaction of witnesses in a real-life situation, and how the difference of atmosphere and expectation (knowing from the laboratory experiment and so their results have no direct effect on another person, or knowing their facts can lead to conviction) can change the conclusion achieved.

When psychologists evaluated the standard treatment of interviewing witnesses in Britain they found that little training can be used to perfect strategy and so to increase reliability and amount of details given. It had been found that interviewing officials were often counterproductive during the interview, doing things such as interrupting the witness whilst they were recalling information.

Other methods sometimes used include hypnosis. It had been widely assumed that hypnosis can help witnesses to relive the knowledge of the occurrence and so produce better recall performance; however studies completed have offered opposing research. Orne et al (1984) found that testimonies made under hypnosis were unreliable and may not be accepted as reality without reasonable data to lower back up the boasts made. Putnam's (1979) research agreed with this debate, as people under hypnosis become more susceptible to ideas and ideas that could be made by the interviewer. Therefore the use of leading questions or deceptive information, as argued by Loftus (1974), (1975), would have a greater result. Putnam's results confirmed that the members under hypnosis were more likely to make mistakes through the interview than those who were not hypnotised.

By considering the variables which could affect the accuracy and reliability of see recall, Geiselman et al (1985) designed a method to maximise the amount of appropriate information obtained during a police interview. This method was to task the typical interviewing process found throughout police force units, and the idea that methods such as hypnosis should be relied on instead.

The technique is based on four key instructions that must definitely be followed through the interviewing process: 1) Recreate the original framework of the event, 2) report every depth, 3) recall the event in a different order, and 4) change perspectives.

Context dependent retrieval is the foundation of the first training- recreating the original context. It is the idea that the learning environment in which a person encodes a storage area in may have an impact on recall.

Smith (1970) looked into this claim by giving participants a list of eighty words to memorize whilst sitting in a distinctive basement room. The next day a few of the participants were examined for recall in the same cellar room, and the others were tested in an area that had been furbished completely different bearing no resemblance to the prior setting.

The average recall for those who continued to be in the cellar room was eighteen items, whilst those in the independent room only have scored typically twelve items.

Some individuals from the group positioned in a different room have been asked to assume the cellar room before completing the test. The average result from this group was seventeen.

These results show that the place in which each individual was tested influenced their results. It appears from these conclusions that those who continued to be in the same environment in which they had first been asked to learn what could actually recall more of the words accurately the next day. This suggests a link between the place of encoding and the capability to recall with regards to the host to recall. However, it is thought environmentally friendly variations must be substantial before any change can be known.

In the cognitive interview, by requesting the see to remember the image of the setting up, to think of details like the weather, lamps or distinctive smells present at the function, and feelings during the incident, the strategy is using context dependent recall to try and aid more exact recall.

This may help witnesses to keep in mind information they had forgotten, or made clear details they were doubtful of.

Remembering feelings experienced at the time is also important as feelings is believed to play a key point in recall. The inner psychological status of an individual can become a retrieval cue similarly to external contexts (such as the atmosphere or setting of a field). For instance, is one is happy whenever a memory is encoded they'll find it much simpler to remember the storage if they're in a happy spirits at the time of recall.

This was shown by Ucros (1989) who discovered that feeling dependence was more pronounced in parents than children, and the dependence is more apparent in true to life than in laboratory situations. The mood dependence is also more robust when the mood is positive than when the feeling is negative.

Witnesses must report every aspect they can remember from enough time of the criminal offense, even if it generally does not appear related. Details that may well not appear important to a see may be relevant to the police or another witness as it may help find information or support existing information.

Total recall also may help the individual or someone else retrieve other areas of the memory to add to their consideration of the function. The excess details given may act as psychological signs in recollection retrieval.

Retrieval failure might occur when there are limited cues to the memory space trace, therefore there is no prompt to aid recall. This is shown through Tulving and Psotka's (1971) investigation, where it was exhibited that in many cases forgetting during free recall was cue based mostly- it was caused by a insufficient appropriate cues.

By using witnesses to supply any information they can remember, more cues are manufactured both for themselves and then for other witnesses. This can help to prompt exact recall, and details that could normally have been neglected.

Similarly retelling the events in different purchases may also provide other cues to memory space strands. Going back through the storage and concentrating on the separate sections in various requests would require semantic processing. As the memory was most likely to have been encoded semantically, this would imply that semantic links would have been made through the encoding process. Revisiting the memory semantically may cause semantic links made with the original memory to resurface, allowing for memory retrieval to occur.

This idea is supported by Tulving and Osler's (1968) research, where individuals received lists of words, each of which was weakly associated with a matched cue expression (e. g. 'city' paired with 'grubby'). The individuals were tested for free recall of the first words of the list, or these were tested for cued recall (where these were prompted by the next phrase).

Tulving and Osler found that the cued recall constantly produced more appropriate results than the free recall. However, in order to disprove the debate that a semantically associated expression may have prompted the original phrase Tulving and Osler offered some of the individuals weakly, semantically associated prompts which were not the initial cue phrase. Results showed that these words did not help in recall.

From these studies they were able to conclude that the specific retrieval cues given during encoding helped to aid recall.

This effect would be the same in the cognitive interview. If the see could be motivated to make semantic links whilst rearranging the ram in their mind, they may stumbled upon a cue encoded at exactly the same time as the ram, which would then cause them to memory space retrieval.

Changing perspectives may also lead to control memories semantically, which would talk about semantic cues to the ram of the event. As with keeping in mind the function in some other order this could lead to better recall or memory space retrieval if details have been forgotten.

Geiselman (1988) likened the traditional police interview strategy with the cognitive interview to investigate the distinctions in results made by each. Eighty-nine students were shown law enforcement training videos of violent offences taking place. After forty-eight hours all the students were interviewed by American Law Enforcement offices (detectives, associates of the CIA and private investigators). The interviewer possessed either been trained to use the typical police interview technique, or Geiselman's cognitive interview technique.

All of the interviews were taped and analysed for the precision of recall by the participants. The results were sectioned off into three categories: 1) correct items, 2) incorrect items- details remember incorrectly, 3) confabulated items- details referred to that hadn't occurred in the video.

The cognitive interview produced far more appropriate items than the standard interview, with typically 41. 15 items in comparison to 29. 4. Nevertheless the results for inappropriate items and confabulated items were similar over the two techniques.

This shows that although the quantity of accurate recall was increased by the cognitive recall, it did not adjust the amount of unreliable information given. This might still mean that the weight positioned on eyewitness testimony was unfair as the trustworthiness of the see was not significantly improved.

However out of this investigation, it could be argued that the results were because of the artificiality of the experiment. The findings were accumulated from interviewed students who got only watched video tapes and had not actually experienced a real crime.

The performance of individuals in this test was in comparison to that of real life witnesses in Fisher et al's (1989) research, where a group of Florida Detectives were trained to use the cognitive interview on genuine witnesses. Results out of this study still confirmed that the information gained from the use of cognitive interview was 47%. So although the inaccurate results cannot be accounted for, the increased precision of accurate items appears to be reliable.

Later investigations carried out by Wagstaff (2002) show that the other key factors in increasing the accuracy of eyewitness testimony are: the amount of time between your event and recall, the mental health effect the event has on a see, the familiarity of the people involved, good visibility of the event, being in close proximity to the incident, and the length of time the even was witnessed for.

The analysis of Eyewitness testimony is so important in mindset as a result of consequences of exactness in court situations. Unreliable accounts which may be caused by reconstructive ram or schemas can cause innocent people being fee of offences they didn't commit. By looking into why your brain changes and reconstructs memories in the manner it can, psychologists can improve techniques used within the justice system to increase precision. Loftus' research into reconstructive memory space, misleading post-event information, stress and anxiety of witnesses and leading questions has highlighted problems in the typical law enforcement officials interview method.

Using the info gathered in this field, Geiselman could construct a better interviewing system- the cognitive interview. Although this did not reduce the amount of inappropriate or confabulated answers given during the interviews, it do increase the appropriate items reported by witnesses by up to 47%.

This has helped somewhat with the trustworthiness of eyewitness testimony, but nonetheless so much weight must not be placed by using an eyewitness' accounts during court, due to the degree of inaccurate or confabulated information still present.


  1. "Instant Revision, AS Mindset", Meldrum, Collins 2004
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