Importance Of Eyewitness Account

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How reliable are eyewitness account?
“I believe I saw him!” says the eyewitness. Nowadays, eyewitness account plays a very important part in court, as well as in the investigation of a criminal case. It is often referred to as a reliable source of evidence by the judge and jury. An eyewitness account is a description of the event, for example a criminal activity based on the memory of a bystander. However, how reliable are those descriptions and memories? Statistics done by the Innocence Project researchers have shown that out of 239 convictions overturned by DNA testing, 73 per cent of those were based on eyewitness accounts. It is also proved by scientists that the accuracy of eyewitness account can be easily manipulated by several ways of
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In a court, the victim may simply point on an innocent man due to his/her emotion of resentment on the criminal. Thus eyewitness accounts, which capable of being altered by emotions, can appear to be inaccurate. When exposed to criminal cases, the stress and anxiety level can easily affect the accuracy thus reliability of eyewitness accounts. A research done by 1Clifford and Scott (1978, cited in Loftus, 1979) experimented about the ability of eyewitnesses to perceive violent and non-violent events. Forty-eight volunteers with equal number of men and women watched two tapes with the start and end manipulated to be the same, of one involving non-violence and the other one with violence. Then the volunteers were asked to describe each case. In the non-violent case, the characters only assaulted each other verbally and some weak retraining movements were involved, while in the violent version, one character physically assaulted another character. The research has shown that regardless of gender, the level of recall of the violent event was significantly lower then the non-violent one. The eyewitnesses produced higher level of stress and anxiety when they see a more violent case, thus showing that the reliability of eyewitness account can be varied depending on the…show more content…
Take an example, in a study done by 1Yuille and Cutshall (1986) investigates the importance of stress and anxiety experienced by the eyewitness influencing their eyewitness account. They show the volunteers a real life incidents- a gun shooting outside a gun shop in Canada, and found that the eyewitnesses gave remarkable accurate memories and details of the event- the thief stole guns and money, but was shot six times and died. The police interviewed the eyewitnesses, and thirteen of them were re-interviewed five months later. Their recall was still found to be accurate, even after the long time. This study shows that those who experienced highest level of stress, especially those who were involved in the event, will give eyewitness account of higher
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