Discipline Of Eyewitness Psychology

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The discipline of Eyewitness Psychology is a relatively novel discipline of Psychology that serves to investigate the psychological factors that affect the memory and cognitive processes used to formulate one’s testimony when one is witness to some, usually criminal event. The role eyewitnesses play is critical to the prosecution and conviction of offenders, but also puts an enormous amount of faith in the witness’s recollection of the event that took place. The implications of a witness’s potentially incorrect identification of a suspect can be devastating and long lasting, not only for the witness but especially the accused.
When a person is witness to or is the victim of a traumatic event, he or she often feels powerless over the situation,
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Oftentimes, witnesses are confident in the accuracy of their identification of a suspect. However, they are usually incorrect. A witness’s confidence in the selection of a perpetrator is resultant of his or her recollection of the event which, as aforementioned, is imperfect. One factor that would affect an eyewitness’s memory is time. As time progresses, it is assumed the witness’s memory would become more clouded. If a witness becomes more confident in their recollection of the perpetrators features after a length of time, this could be a form of confirmation bias: a way to put the traumatic case behind them. It is easier psychologically to identify a suspect and obtain closure than it is to live knowing that your attacker could still be out there. To combat this, it is suggested that the victim be questioned immediately after the incident to prevent memory deterioration, and with open ended questions to allow for free recall so as to obtain as much information as possible; even a cognitive interview would be…show more content…
Police must also be discrete with whom they believe to be the perpetrator. In the above-mentioned case of Michael Green, he was shown to the victim multiple times, suggesting the prioritization of Michael and giving the victim grounds to acquiesce with the police. To combat this, it is considered best practice to keep the suspect’s identity confidential and present the suspect among a group of “foils” or individuals who are known to be innocent but match the suspect’s. This allows police to rule out a potential suspect, while also preventing those who are innocent from being incorrectly

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