Episodic Memory

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Human memory has different categories including episodic memory (responsible for recalling events), semantic memory (responsible for recalling everyday stuff) and procedural (memory for human processes), (Tulving, 1972). As psychology has developed other aspects of the world such as law have also developed with the help of psychological research; highlighting different concepts, for instance how episodic memory may impact the reliability of eyewitness testimonies (EWT). The aims of this essay are to explain The schema theory and weapon focus as well as other factors that may affect EWT, like language effect on recall and anxiety.

A schema is a mental portrayal of something, or the way one eventually understands something. The Schemas theory
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A picture of two men in an underground serial reproduction task was used, a black man talking to a white man holding a razor was used In results in most of reproductions it was reported that it was the black man holding the razor which was a false recall while some also reported he was 'threatening' the white man with it. This could be due to participants having a schema of black people linked to criminal activity. Words such as “threatening can be seen as misleading” and shows the impact of vocabulary in EWT, if this distortion was to be applied to an eyewitnesses testimony it may well be unreliable. Boon and Davis 1987 conducted a similar study in which participants were shown pictures of a knife attack carried out by a white male. While some saw a fight between two white men and others saw a fight between a black and a white man. When later asked to recall the scene most wrongly chose the picture with the black man holding the knife, but not when asked to describe the scenario instead. Results therefore show that schema is likely to affect some memory tasks. Tuckey and Brewer 2003 is a recent study much like (Boon and Davis 1987) in which participants saw a video of a bank robbery that had three different types of scenes, one of which matched the schema. Information had to be recalled immediately and then again over a period of 12 weeks. Study concluded that participants …show more content…
It refers to the attention of the victim on the weapon, e.g. the barrel of the gun or the blade of the knife leading to less attention on other weapons. Taylor 1982 suggested that attention on the crime weapon is so direct that it excludes everything. While Loftus 1979 argues that it is the characterization of the weapon which captures a good deal of attention while leading to forget other information of the situation. Weapon focus is said to often weaken some memories for the crime, such as defendants clothing and other important information, however line up performance is found to have a less impact, with some studies finding no effect e.g. (Cutler and Penrod, 1988). Loftus et al. (1987) in their study showed participants various pictures of a customer in a restaurant. In one scenario the customer was holding a gun, in the other a check book. Participants who saw the gun version focused on the gun therefore they were less likely to identify the customer in a line up than those who had saw the customer holding the check book. This therefore suggests the impact that WF can have on EWT. However, an earlier study by Yuille and Cutshall (1986) contradicts that WF influences

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