Eyewitness Testimony And Chronobiology

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Research Topic and Theoretical Background
With this project we aspire to bridge between the fields of eyewitness testimony and chronobiology, by examining the effect of chronotype on eyewitness testimony. Although a good deal of research has focused on situational factors that influence eyewitness testimony, research examining dispositional factors or the interaction of person and situation factors is lacking. One potentially important interactional factor concerns the time of day eyewitness testimony is given in relation to the witnesses’ chronotype. A person’s chronotype refers to the idiosyncratic body clock of an individual that influences the cognitive and the physical performance over the course of a day. The high cognitive performance
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Eyewitnesses rely not only on their memory but also on their decision making abilities when deciding which information to report or when making lineup identifications. Hence, it is only logical that we consider chronotype in eyewitness testimony. Yet, to date there is only one study9 examining the effect of chronotype in the legal system. Though this study addresses the issue of the increased propensity of false confessions under conditions of chronotype asynchrony, the findings argue for further research between the fields of legal psychology and chronobiology.
Objective
The current project sets out to investigate the effects of chronotype on eyewitness testimony. In light of the foregoing research on impaired cognitive functioning under conditions of chronotype asynchrony, we expect decreased quantity and accuracy in eyewitness reports and lower identification accuracy rates for witnesses who make lineup identification outside their optimal time than those who make lineup identifications at their optimal time.
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Findings from this project will result in at least one peer-reviewed international publication, and will be presented in international psychology and law conferences. Further, the findings will be disseminated to police, judges and expert witnesses working in the field of Legal Psychology at meetings including the annual International Investigative Interviewing Research Group conference and the Forensic Psychology Update conference in Maastricht. Both events are attended by police and legal practitioners and provide a platform for researchers to deliver their findings directly to end-users. Furthermore, the section of Forensic Psychology that the applicant is a member of, maintains a well-respected and highly visited blog where our findings could be posted. Finally our findings will be disseminated to the general public with the use of newspaper articles. In the past the applicant was successful in communicating findings from our lab with the general public via newspapers such as “De Limburger” and “de

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