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Flashcards in CLOA - extent of reliability of a cognitive process Deck (12):
1

importance of questioning eyewitness reliability

- criminal justice system relies heavily on eyewitness testimony
- The Innocence Project provides assistance to wrongly convicted people to help prove their innocence
- over 75% of the 220 people they helped were convicted due to mistaken eyewitness identification
- Eakin et al. (2003): even when warned about the presence of misleading info, participants were still vulnerable to it

Main studies:
- Loftus et al. (1987)
- Deffenbacher et al. (2004)

Counter-studies:
- Riniolo et al. (2003)
- Yuille and Cutshall (1983)

2

Loftus et al. (1987) - Aim

- investigate how repression may influence memories
- (thus leading to unreliable answers from eyewitnesses)

3

Loftus et al. (1987) - Process

1. Participants overhear a discussion in the room next door
2. There were 2 conditions (i.e. groups)
- no weapon condition (man with greasy hands emerges, holding a pen)
- weapon condition (man with bloody paper knife emerges)
3. Participants were asked to identify the man from a selection of 50 people

4

Loftus et al. (1987) - Findings

participants from no-weapon condition more accurate in recollection

5

Loftus et al. (1987) - Conclusion

- participants' attention was drawn to presence of weapons
- so less attention paid to man's facial features
- weapon may also have influenced participants' anxiety levels, affecting the reliability of their memory
- therefore eyewitness testimony is unreliable

6

Deffenbacher et al. (2004)

- conducted meta-analyses of studies investigating the role of emotion on eyewitness testimony
- found that anxiety and stress reduces the reliable recall of crime details
- including information about the behaviour of the main characters
- but some studies suggest that anxiety and stress seem to improve eyewitness accuracy
- suggested that increases of anxiety up to a certain level increase accuracy but further increases may produce the opposite effect

7

Riniolo et al. (2003)

found that eyewitness memory of the sinking of the Titanic was accurate

8

Loftus and Palmer (1974)

- mean estimates were highest in smashed„ condition and lowest in contacted
- results indicate that memory can be manipulated by using specifi†c words (hence, is unreliable)
- critical word in the question consistently aff‡‡ected participant‚ answers
- the use o‡f diff‡‡erent words may have influenced participants‚ mental representation/memory reconstruction of‡ the accident (activating diff schemas using the critical word)

9

Yuille and Cutshall (1986)

- interviewed 13 witnesses to an armed robbery in Canada 5 months after the crime
- the interview questions utilized a similar technique to Loftus and Palmer (1974) -- the use of 'leading questions' to mislead the participants
- their recollections of the crime were compared with the initial detailed reports they had given to the police
- despite the leading questions, recollections very closely matched original reports

10

extent of memory reliability

- memory is an active reconstructive process
- every time a memory is recalled, stored info is altered
- one is forced to simplify by relying on prior knowledge
- schemas are facilitators in comprehension and memorisation
- helps to enable more effortless and efficient processing
- but schematic processing can lead to error and distortion
- should be noted that in all studies, the gist of the situation was correctly recalled
- but memory of specific details may have been influenced upon recall
- thus eyewitness testimony is fallible and should not be overly relied upon

11

conclusion: to what extent is one cognitive process reliable?

- memory is an active reconstructive process
- Bransford and Johnson (1972) established schemas as great facilitators in the comprehension and memorization of information
- hence, reconstruction =! distortion
- however, that doesn't mean schematic processing won't cause error/distortion
- much empirical evidence for and against reliability
- research addressing specific factors or processes can no doubt help us predict the circumstances in which eyewitness testimony will be reliable or unreliable
- to conclude, more research on the factors are necessary to establish a suitable conclusion

12

what to write when asked "to what extent is one cognitive process reliable?"

- cognitive process: memory

factors affecting memory reliability:
- weapon focus: Loftus et al (1987)
- high emotional arousal: Deffenbacher et al (2004) vs Riniolo et al. (2003)
- leading questions: Loftus and Palmer (1974) vs Yuille and Cutshall (1986)
- NOTE THAT LOFTUS' AND DEFFENBACHER'S STUDIES ARE LABORATORY EXPERIMENTS WHILE YUILLE'S AND RINIOLO'S ARE CASE STUDIES -- analyse the difference between real-life and experimental situations

- discuss the validity of the arguments
- give judgment by emphasizing some arguments over others
- give judgment on the relative importance of the factors on the behaviour: how important is ____ and why?
- present all opinions with evidence
- conclusion: evaluate the extent of reliability

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