False Memory & Eyewitness Testimony Essay

1583 Words May 29th, 2013 7 Pages
False Memory and Eyewitness Testimony

False Memory and Eyewitness Testimony

A false memory is simply a memory that did not occur. An actual experience can become distorted as best illustrated by the Cog Lab experiment on false memories accessed through Argosy University. The experiment is outlined as follows: a participant is given a list of words that are highly relative in nature at a rate of about one word every 2 seconds. At the finish of the given list, the participant is then shown a list of words in which he or she is to recall the words from the original list. A special distractor is inserted to the list, and this word, although highly relative in nature, was not in the original list. For example, the
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In this case, two weapons were brandished. Could that double the impairment? There is also a forgetting curve called the Ebbinhaus Forgetting Curve, in which studies have shown that 24 hours after a participant studies information, almost 2/3 of the material is forgotten. Now apply that to eyewitness testimony. “When a witness perceives a complex event, a number of factors, such as exposure time, or the salience of the event, or the witnesses poor expectations, will affect the accuracy of what is perceived and stored in memory” (Olivarez,2010). Post event information, such as a newspaper article or even a conversation about the event can “cause nonexistent details to become incorporated into previously acquired memory” (Olivarez, 2010). In police procedure, often times photo spreads and lineups will not include the perpetrator. The eyewitness is not aware of this tactic and is not told that the perpetrator may not be in the lineup at all which can lead to the witness choosing the relatively closest in resemblance to the actual perpetrator. The distractors used in lineups and photo spreads are poorly chosen, not resembling the perpetrator in height, weight, or coloring among other factors. When the examiner is aware of the perpetrator’s identity, he may give subtle verbal cues when the witness chooses him or her, in effect suggesting with an affirmative nod, or by casually remarking

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