Eyewitness Testimony Research Paper

1046 Words 5 Pages
Eye Witness Testimony Paper
Janessa Gumz
Intro to Psychology

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Eye Witness Testimony Paper
Is eye witness testimony always reliable? An eye witness testimony is when a bystander gives the court their testimony describing what they observed in relation to the case under investigation. Because people can lie and can be judgmental, eye witness testimony is not always reliable, but it is considered to be reliable most times. Although perjury, or knowingly lying under oath, is illegal, the problem with eye witnesses is that their memory may fail them, so they may not be knowingly lying about something they say. In addition, anxiety and stress may impact the validity of the memory. According to the Yerkes Dodson Curve (1908),
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On the other hand, if the eye witness is asked questions that lead them to answer in a particular way, the testimony can be faulty. Based on the information that I have found so far, I would say that eye witness testimonies are a valuable way to obtain information, but they should not necessarily be the decided factor of a case. Because there are some flaws with eye witness testimony, they are not always reliable.
Equally important in determining the reliability of eye witness testimony is the reconstruction theory of memory. This theory comes from Bartlett (1932), who’s famous study
‘War of the Ghosts’ showed that memory is not like a video tape recording, but we make “effort after meaning”. When what we remember conflicts with what we know and understand about the world, we change our memories so they become more sensible to us. Bartless proved that our memories are not photographic records, but they are individual recollections that are shaped by

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stereotypes, beliefs, and expectations. Neisser and Harsch (1992) studied the theory of flashbulb memories. They found that when an event is so intense it activates our attention to such an
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One type of interview is the standard police interview. Police use a plethora of techniques while interviewing, including visual cues, the baseline method, behavioral analysis, reverse recall, and cognitive interview.
Each of these types has its advantages and disadvantages. The most reliable way to question eye witnesses that has so far been discovered is cognitive interviewing. First, witnesses are made aware of all the events surrounding the crime without creating false memories or inventing details. Then, the witness is allowed to provide and open ended account of the situation. Lastly, the interviewer askes follow up questions to clarify the witness’ account, reminding the witness that it is acceptable to be unsure and move on. Although this has been called the most accurate technique of interviewing eye witnesses, it has not been implemented by all. Another type of interview uses hypnosis. The hypnosis technique has been associated with decreases in accuracy, false confidence in incorrect information, and increased suggestibility to leading questions.
Because of these reasons, hypnosis is not a preferred method of interviewing. Based on

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