Eyewitness Testimony Research

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An eyewitness testimony is a legal term used to describe a personal account of details that occurred during a crime, such as a robbery or murder. They would have to give a description of the event, like the race of the perpetrator, what items were stolen, the time of day, etc. While these testimonials are helpful, many people are calling into question the accuracy of these statements. Generally, testimonies are relied on heavily, and believed to be very accurate. However, research has shown that there are many different factors that play into the accuracy of these accounts, such as: anxiety/stress, reconstructive memory, weapon focus, and leading questions. Almost everybody experiences anxiety and/or stress, it’s a natural part of human life. …show more content…

It “records” an event and then proceeds to store it. Then when you remember the event, it’s kind of like replaying it like you would a video tape. But that’s not how your brain actually works at all. Your brain takes information and tries to make sense of it. Then, it tries to organize the information. So basically, your memory is subjective to the way you and your brain interpret the information. In the famous study “War of the Ghosts,” Bartlett proved that memory isn’t just a factual recording of events, but that we “make effort after meaning. This means that “we try to fit what we remember with what we really know and understand about the world. As a result, we often change our memory so they are more sensible to us.” In his experiment, Bartlett told a person a story. Then, the person he told told another person, and so on. It was like a game of telephone. Each time, the story changed in some way. So how does this tie into eyewitness accounts in court? This calls testimonies’ reliability into question because how would they be accurate if the brain reconstructs the memory to be understood by the witness? Witnesses generally change their memory based on their stereotypes of sex, religion, race, etc. In a study by Allport & Postman (1947), witnesses were asked the race of the man holding a razor in the picture below. An alarmingly high number of participants said the man was black. However, this is

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