Flashcards in EWT - Anxiety Deck (15):
a state of emotional and physical arousal. The emotions include having worried thoughts and feelings of tension. Physical changed include an increased heart rate and sweatiness. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations but can affect the accuracy and detail of eyewitness testimony.
outline and illustrate the Yerkes-Dodson U hypothesis
the relationship between emotional arousal and performance looks like an inverted 'U'. Kenneth Deffenbacher (1983) applied the Yerkes-Dodson law to eyewitness testimony. Lower levels of anxiety produce lower levels of recall accuracy. But memory becomes more accurate as the level of anxiety experienced increases, just as you would expect from the below graph. However, there comes a point where the optimal level of anxiety is reached. This is the point of maximum accuracy. If an eyewitness experiences any more stress than this, then their recall of the event suffers a drastic decline.
summarise the point tha the U hypothesis is too simplistic
anxiety is very difficult to define and measure accurately. One reason for this is that it has many elements – cognitive, behavioural, emotional and physical. But the inverted-U explanation assumes only one of these is linked to poor performance – physiological arousal.
what is deffenbachers argument regarding the U hypothesis
Deffenbacher (2004) performed a meta-analysis of 63 studies, finding that EWT performance increased gradually up to extremely high levels of anxiety, after which there was a catastrophic drop in performance with a negative impact on both accuracy of eyewitness identification and accuracy of recall of crime-related details.
Describe Scott and Johnson's lab study into the effects of anxiety on eyewitness testimony
Scott and Johnson (1976) led participants to believe that they were going to take part in a lab study. Whilst seated in the waiting room, participants heard an argument in the next room. The 'low anxiety' argument resulted in a man walking through the waiting room with a pen and greasy hands, the 'high anxiety' argument left with a smashed glass and a man walking out holding a paper knife covered in blood. The participants were then asked to pick out the man from a series of 50 photos, 49% of the low anxiety group could, only 33% of the high anxiety group could do so successfully.
Apply the use of the tunnel hypothesis and the weapon focus phenomenon to explain Scott and Johnson's findings:
the weapon focus effect is the theory that the mind undergoes the tunnel theory and focuses on the weapon as it is the main source of anxiety, because of this, details of other parts of the experience can be lost or not as clear as one may wish.
The element of surprise has been described as the key flaw in the weapon focus explanation
However, some argue that this theory tests surprise rather than anxiety. The reason participants focus on the weapon may be because they are surprised by what they see rather than scared. Pickel (1998) conducted a study including scissors, a hand gun, a wallet or a raw chicken as a weapon in a video in a hairdressers. Eyewitness accuracy was poorest at the most unusual conditions (handgun and chicken.)
How can the use of lab studies be criticised in their use in eyewitness testimony?
Most lab studies show participants a filmed (and usually staged) crime. Most of the participants will be aware that they are watching a filmed crime for some reason to do with the study. Chances are most of them will work out for themselves that they are going to be asked questions about what they have seen.
Evaluate the use of lab studies based on the ethical issues considerations
creating anxiety in people is very risky. It is potentially unethical because it may subject people to psychological harm purely for the purpose of research. This is why real-life studies are so beneficial – psychologists interview people who have already witnessed a real-life event, so there is no need to create it. The issue doesn't challenge the findings from studies such as Scott and Johnson's but it does question the need for such research. One reason is to compare the findings with the less controlled field studies – and the benefits of this research may outweigh the issues.
Describe Yuille and Cutshall's study
: conducted a study of a real-life study in 1986 in Vancouver, Canada of a shooting in a gun shop. There were 21 witnesses – 13 of which who had agreed to take part in the study. Interviews were held 4 – 5 months after the event and compared to initial police interviews. Accuracy was determined by a number of details in the account. The witnesses were asked to rate how stressed they had felt at the time of the incident, using a 7 point scale, and asked if they had emotional problems since the event, such as sleeplessness. The witnesses were very accurate in their accounts and there was little difference in the amount of accuracy after 5 months. The participants who reported to be the most stressed remembered the most (88%) compared to those that were less stressed (75%)
Describe research into the moderate levels of stress by Giner and Verkampt and the study conducted by Peters
told participants that fake electrodes would give them electric shocks. Their recall of minor details of a traffic incident viewed on video was superior to participants with lower anxiety produced by being told the fake electrodes were purely for recording purposes.
Peters (1988) tested people attending their local health clinic for an injection. During the visit, they met a nurse, who gave them the injection, and a researcher for the same period of time. Later on, using photographs, the researcher proved easier to recognise than the nurse, suggesting the heightened anxiety levels due to the injection led to a decrease in memory accuracy.
Evaluate the use of field experiments
researchers usually interview real-life eyewitnesses sometime after the event. All sorts of things will have happened to the participants in the meantime that the researchers have no control over – discussions with other people about the event, accounts they have read or seen in the media, the effects of being interviewed by the police, and so on (post-event discussions.) This is a limitation of field research because it is possible that these extraneous variables may be responsible for the accuracy of recall. The effects of anxiety may be overwhelmed by these other factors, and impossible to assess by the time the participants are interviewed.
Further elaborate on the field experiment point using evidence from Fruzetti:
Further research into the study, those closest to the shooting had the best recall as they would have experienced more anxiety because they're more at risk.t w
Outline the role of repression, anxiety and EWT
Freud (1894) argued that anxiety hinders the recall of memories, as he saw forgetting as being motivated by the traumatic content of memories. Access to memories would be barre to protect individuals from emotional distress. Research evidence is not without criticism and some would argue whether the concept actually exists in reality.