Two most common tasks for eyewitnesses
- Facial recognition and -Event Memory
Recalling details of an incident
Identify face of a person seen earlier
Factors involved in recall of events
-Exposure time - Seriousness of Crime - Use of Weapons
What do witnesses often over-estimate
The length of a crime
Loftus et al 1987
Participants shown video of bank robbery that takes place over 30 seconds. Asked to estimate length of robbery. Avg est - 2.5 mins
Why is crime seriousness an issue in recalling events?
People may have trouble recalling traumatic stimuli due to suppression of memories or lack of attention paid to traumatic stimuli at time of event
2 Issues for Psychological Research in investigating crime seriousness and memory interaction
1) You cannot recreate the impact and trauma of the serious crime on the indiv. 2) The impact is not as strong on an uninvolved witness as it is on the victim
Clifford and Hollin 84
Show violent and non violent video and asked to recall. Better recall for non-violent video
Yerkes Dodson Law
Stimulation affects performance accuracy in a curvilinear manner
What does the Yerkes Dodson Law mean for memory in relation to the seriousness of a crime?
Too little stimulation (not perceived as serious enough) low recall/acquisition - Too much stimulation (crime perceived as traumatic - low recall/acquisition – Optimal stimulation (crime percieved as serious but not traumatic - better recall)
How does over-stimulation affect memory during recall?
If individual is over-stimulated during recall (such as stressful witness stand situation) recall may be limited
How does the freq. of occurrence of a crime on the individual affect their perception of the seriousness of the crime?
The more frequent, less serious. Less frequent (e.g once in a lifetime) more serious.
Weapon Use in relation to memory
If a weapon is used in a crime, the witness will pay more attention to the weapon than to individuals and other events happening around them
How does age influence recall?
Both very young and old perform less well.
HUGE area of research at the moment - reliability of child witnesses
Old age - how does this affect memory?
Hearing and eyesight problems may affect acquisition of memory
Influence of Occupation on recall
No real strong correlations between occupation and recall of faces or events. Police Officers may report more information because they are actively looking for it. They are just as susceptible to memory distortion as we are
Effect of confidence on accuracy and jurors perceptions of accuracy
Witnesses who appear confident are more likely to have their evidence believed by jurors, however there is no evidence to suggest that there’s a correlation between confidence and accuracy
Personality characteristics and eyewitness ability
no correlations have been found - there is suggestion that it could be situational - more anxious individual doesn’t recall stressful event when it is happening to them, recalls when they are a witness to a crime
Gender and facial memory
- Females reportedly better than males at recognising faces
- The issue of male colourblindness