Memory And Non Criminal Memory

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Confessions are one of the most damning types of evidence in criminal trials. While convictions cannot be based on confessions alone, they are still relied on in litigation (Schwartzbach, 2016). Not all confessions are true, however, even if a person remembers committing the crime. Julia Shaw and Stephen Porter published a study in 2015 that examined the general hypothesis: It is possible to create a false memory of committing a crime. They used a sample of 60 undergraduate students to test the following specific hypothesis: False memories of committing a crime along with police contact while in adolescence can be developed by young adults in an experimental setting. The purpose of this study was to determine if certain tactics by an interviewer …show more content…
Some type of highly emotional event in that age range as well as the lack of criminal activity (theft, assault, assault with a weapon) was required for participation. The researches then used a selection of information from these questionnaires in interviews with the participants. Each participant was interviewed three times by the same interviewer, who they thought was a memory researcher. The interviewer used a script in every interview to ensure consistency between participants. Participants were divided equally into two conditions: false criminal memory and false non-criminal memory. In the first interview, participants were told of one event they had experienced and one event they had not. In the criminal condition, the false event was centered on criminal activity. In the non-criminal condition, a non-criminal, but highly emotional event was described as the false event. After this, and in each of the following interviews, they were asked to describe the events. As expected, they were not able to describe the event they had not experienced in the first interview. To help them “remember” the false event, the interviewer used guided imagery and suggested that they practice visualizing the event at …show more content…
The sample was composed of mainly females, and included little variation in ethnicity (most participants were white). Given unlimited resources, I would have varied my sample in gender and ethnicity to improve the external validity of the study. If the same results were found, it would provide stronger evidence of the possibility of the generation of false memories of criminal events. The authors mention in the discussion that the details of the true events used were unverified. The caregivers provided the information, but no other steps were taken to verify the details or truth of the event. The lack of verification allows for the possibility that not all details of the true events were true, which would weaken the results found in comparing true memories to false memories. To combat this, I would either create a verification system, or adopt one that is used in another setting (investigative

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