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Can The Human Memory Be Trusted?

776 words - 4 pages

Can The Human Memory Be Trusted?
Many factors can influence eye witness testimony (EWT), EWT is a term used in the legal system when witnesses recall information concerning individuals who have committed crimes. The factors that could affect the accuracy of EWT may include leading questions, age and anxiety. So can the human memory really be trusted with so many effecting factors?
Loftus and Palmer (1974) conducted a study with the aim of assessing the accuracy of memory after witnessing a car accident, and including leading questions to assess whether they could affect immediate recall. The researchers showed forty five students seven different traffic accidents, and giving each ...view middle of the document...

They had to identify a specific individual within a slide sequence of a mock crime. While identifying photos children found it easier to choose ‘someone’ compared to the adult witnesses however made more errors of identification compared to the adults. So errors can be made while identifying individuals at any age group, meaning it could be unreliable with this influence as well. However Yarmey (1993) asked 651 adults in public places to give a description of the physical characteristics of a young woman they had spoken to for fifteen seconds, two minutes ago. Young and middle age adults were more confident with their recalling, compared to older adults, although there were no significant differences in the accuracy of recall that could be because of the age group of witnesses.
Anxiety could also affect EWT. A really traumatic event (as some psychologists argue) could negatively impact the accuracy of eye witness testimony. Deffenbacher et al. (2004) conducted a meta-analysis of eighteen studies that were published between 1974 and 1997, aiming to discover the effects of high anxiety and accuracy of eye witness recall. His findings backed the theory that high levels of anxiety do negatively affect accurately. However, Christianson and Hubinette (1993) questioned 58 witnesses of real bank robberies, the witnesses that had been threatened in...

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