The Misinformation Effect

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There has been extensive research conducted on both estimator and system variables and how they specifically relate to the witnessing of a crime. Estimator variables represent sources of eyewitness error that are beyond the control of the criminal justice system. They typically happen during or following the crime before investigators are able to arrive on the scene. This represents the basic way humans perceive things and remember them and their overall influence can only be estimated. On the other hand, system variables are controlled by people within the criminal justice system when collecting information from eyewitnesses. In this case, errors are preventable. I will be discussing three estimator variables and three system variables and…show more content…
Unfortunately, most people are not immune to this effect. The misinformation effect occurs when people witness an event and are later exposed to new and misleading information about the event which causes their memory to become distorted. Misinformation can come from co-witnesses comparing notes, family members and peers, police investigating a crime, and lawyers in the courtroom. Studies have shown that it is harder for police officers and lawyers to share misleading information that pertains to important or noticeable factors from the case. It through other studies that we have been able to identify young children and elderly people to be more susceptible to the effects of misinformation. The misinformation effect belongs in the system variables category because it can be caused by law enforcement and lawyers who are information…show more content…
Research has indicated that police investigators should pay attention to witness’s level of confidence when determining the accuracy of their offender identifications. Other studies show that a higher confidence level in the witness leads to a more accurate decision when identifying the culprit. Also, highly confident decisions, rapid decisions, and decisions accompanied by relevant recollection are more likely to be accurate than those made with low confidence. There are several things which can influence eyewitness certainty, including post identification feedback and poorly constructed lineups. Sometimes witnesses are confident that the perpetrator is not in the lineup and they are referred to as non-choosers. Witness confidence and certainty are a part of the system variable category because it can be
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