Flashcards in AS MEMORY - FACTORS AFFECTING EYE WITNESS TESTIMONY; ANXIETY Deck (6)
Describe the potential effects of anxiety on EWT
Anxiety could have a negative effect on EWT as it creates an internal psychological arousal that prevents us from focusing on the important cues and details of an event, so recall is worse.
Anxiety could have a positive effect on EWT as when we experience this psychological arousal, our fight/flight system is engaged, which makes us more alert and attentive to cues and details, so recall is better.
Describe the theory of why both positive and negative effects of anxiety are possible
The Yerkes-Dodson "inverted u hypothesis" (1908) says that emotional arousal is positively correlated to performance up to a point, but then it has negative effects (looks like a negative parabola). So performance is at its best with some anxiety, but not too much
Deffenbacher (1983) applied the IUH to EWT; anxiety allows more accurate info to be recalled up to an optimal point, but then any further accuracy leads to a decrease in accuracy.
Describe a supporting study for anxiety having a negative effect on EWT
Johnson and Scott (1976) led ppts to believe they were going to take part in a lab study and were in a waiting room.
C(low anxiety) heard an argument in the office next door and saw a man walk out holding a pen and grease on his hands.
C(high anxiety) heard the same argument, but also heard glass smashing and saw a man walk out holding a paper knife and blood on his hands.
Ppts were then asked to identify the man out of a lineup of photos. 49% of C(low) correctly identified him compared to just 33% of C(high). Tunnel theory suggests witnesses focus on a weapon as it's a source of anxiety and so we miss other details and cues
Describe a supporting study for anxiety having a positive effect on EWT
Yuille and Cutshall (1986) used 13 real eye witnesses from a shooting in a gun shop in Vancouver, Canada, in which the owner of the shop shot a thief dead.
Ppts were asked to rate their anxiety on a 7 point scale. They were interviewed by Y&C about details 4-5 months after the shooting and the notes were compared with original police interview notes.
C(high anxiety) had an 88% accurate recall compared to 75% in C(low anxiety)
Evaluate anxiety as a factor negatively affecting EWT
(+) Johnson and Scott (1976)
(+) Field exp so more natural beh so inc external validity
(-) Ethical problem of creating anxiety
(-) Field exp so lacks control of extraneous variables
(-) Weapon focus may be irrelevant; Johnson and Scott may have been testing surprise rather than anxiety. Pickel (1998) got ppts to watch a video of a hair salon. C1 saw someone walk through with scissors, C2 saw a wallet, C3 saw a handgun and C4 saw the person holding a whole raw chicken. C3 and C4 showed the poorest recall of details, suggesting that weapon focus is due to surprise and not anxiety so J&S study doesn't tell us anything about effects of anxiety on EWT