The Yerkes-Dodson Law: Stress And Violent Crime

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Eyewitnesses that witness a crime, especially violent crime, commonly experience stress. Stress is a negative emotional state that causes both physiological changes and cognitive changes. High stress causes increased arousal, increase in heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tone. A person feels stress when encountering a threat and that causes high anxiety. High levels of stress can leads to holes in memory of eyewitnesses when asked to recall details such the persons involved. (Aharonian & Brian)

The Yerkes-Dodson law proposes that the relationship between arousal and performance is an inverted U, in which moderate increase in arousal causes performance to increase but with too much arousal, performance decreases (Diamond, Campbell, Halonen & Zoladz, 2007). Yerkes-Dodson law predicts that on simple tasks, stress levels of cortisol can enhance a person’s memory and on more complex tasks stress levels of cortisol should impair a person’s memory. Traumatic experiences place a person at the highest side of the arousal performance curves (Yerkes and Dodson Curve) and they generate flashbulb memories so powerful that they are long lasting and can cause anxiety and mood disorders. In their study to develop this model, Yerkes and Dodson carried out a lab experiment on 40 lab rice to see how they learned a maze. Mice were placed to see if they entered the black or white tunnel, and if they chose the black tunnel they were given a electric shock. They gave the mice either mild

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