Eyewitness Memory and Interviewing Witnesses - Lecture 1 Flashcards Preview

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What is eyewitness testimony?

It is evidence given by a witness to a crime, typically in the form of a verbal account or person identification.


What are they asked to recall?

Episodic memories.


What are episodic memories?

These are memories for personally experienced events. Tend to retain details of time and situation in which these memories were acquired of when, where and what happened.


Why is research on Human memory important for the law?

Because memory needs to be 100% accurate and eyewitness accounts are considered to be compelling by jurors. Also, eyewitness misidentification is the leading cause of wrongful conviction.


What percentage of cases does eyewitness misidentification occur in?

12%. There have been 325 post-conviction DNA exoneration cases in US of which 20 served time on death-row and 13.6 years was the average time served.


Why do eyewitnesses make errors?

Memory processing occurs in three stages and an error can occur at any stage.


What is the first stage of memory processing?

Stage 1 = Acquisition/Encoding which is the information that the person receives.


What is stage two of memory processing?

Stage 2 = Storage/retention which is the information that the person stores in their memory.


What is stage 3 of memory processing?

Stage 3 = Retrieval which is the information that the person retrieves later.


Why is stage 1 so important?

Because it forms a basis for what is stored in memory and eventually retrieved when giving a testimony.


Which 5 factors affect the quality of the information encoded into memory?

1) Exposure duration
2) Crime seriousness
3) Violence
4) Weapon presence
5) Perpetrator characteristics eg. disguises


What is top-down, bottom-up processing?

Bottom-up = data driven and begins with an image that falls onto retina. Information is transmitted up to higher levels of visual systems until object is perceived. It builds from individual stimulus features to unified perception.

Top-down = Sensory information that is interpreted in light of prior knowledge, concepts and expectations.


What is perceptual set? And who invented the concept?

It is the idea that cues can 'set' the individual to interpret impoverished info in a certain way.
It was invented by Bugelski and Alampay (1961)


What are past experience-schemas?

They are a mental framework or body of knowledge that helps us make sense of familiar situations.


What do past experience schemas do?

They guide our expectations and provide a framework within which new information is processed and organised.


What are common schemas called?

'Scripts' - people can have scripts for events they have never witnessed before eg. what a robbery would involve.


Who invented the concept of schemas?

Bransford and Johnson in 1972. (the washing clothes scenario)


What is the schema theory?

It suggests that we remember items better if they fit in with our schema and previous experience.
NOTE: expectations and prior knowledge can lead to errors.


What is the danger of the storage/Retention stage?

That we forget (over time).


When was the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve invented?



What does the EFC show?

It shows an inverse relationship between memory and retention interval.


What was the findings from the O.J Simpson trial? Who undertook the experiment?

It was done by Schmolk et al in 2000. There were three control groups: 3 days after, 15 months after and 32 months after. Reported high confidence even when they contained major distortions.


What is the encoding specificity?

It is the link between encoding and retrieving.


What does what we remember later depend upon?

It depends on the similarity of the retrieval situation to original encoding conditions (Tulving, 1979).


What does learning involve?

Laying down a memory trace


When does retrieval failure occur?

When memory trace is no longer stored in memory and when memory trace is stored in memory but cannot be accessed.


What did Gordon and Baddeley find?

In 1975, they found that reinstating physical context in which participants encoded a list of words helped participants to remember.


When is memory enhanced?

When the conditions present during retrieval match those that were present during encoding.


What are the two types of retrieval?

Recall and Recognition


What is recall?

When a person brings to mind information in response to a cue. Cue may be non-specific (free recall eg. from beginning, tell me what you saw?) or specific (cued recall eg. the hat the man was wearing, what colour was it?).