Memory Recollection in Eyewitness Testimony

Better Essays
Topics: Memory
Distorted Memory
As Will Rogers once said, “You never know how much a man can’t remember until he is called as a witness.” Human memory serves many purposes in people’s past, present, and future. Memory and the images contained in it help people to conduct the daily routines of life that are required for basic survival. It also aids in times of great sorrow when dealing with the loss of a loved one. Without memory, people would not be able to write, speak, navigate, or have personal relationships. (Foster) However, memory plays a crucial role in the legal system, and the apprehension and possible conviction of suspects who have committed unthinkable crimes. Such emotional memories are usually vivid and often very precise. Even still, it is certain that at least some emotional memories do contain errors, and some may be wrong all together. The accuracy of emotional memories must be tested and not assumed accurate. At the center of this debate over emotional memories is “flashbulb memories.” Flashbulb recollections tend to be extraordinarily vivid and detailed, and are recalled with much confidence and accuracy. However, it can also be wrong. Therefore, memory vividness and confidence during eyewitness testimony cannot be associated with accuracy. (Reisberg)
Individuals who become a part of the legal system are usually asked to recall highly emotional and often negative information. Witnesses to murders and other violent crimes, and victims of assaults are asked to provide details of the crime to police officers, lawyers, and other members of the legal system. Witnesses and victims may be under great emotional distress when attempting to recall these details. Although many studies support that great duress improves certain areas of memory recall, there are just as many that suggest that peripheral details are sacrificed by central details. For instance, if a weapon is used during a crime, the victim will focus more on the weapon than the perpetrator. Therefore, the



Cited: Cohen, Gillian East Sussex Psychology Press, 1996 3 Woll, Stanley. Mahwah, N.J. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 2002.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    Memory and Eyewitness Testimony are two concepts which are studied within the topic of cognitive psychology. It is important to investigate these processes to aid in the understanding of how individuals cognitively process ideas and how this may affect specific behaviors. From a psychological perspective, memory can be defined as, “The capacity to retain and store information” (holah.co.uk, 2006). The further researches into the topic of memory allow it to greatly contribute toward societies' legal…

    • 358 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    False Memory and Eyewitness Testimony PSY363 False Memory and Eyewitness Testimony A false memory is simply a memory that did not occur. An actual experience can become distorted as best illustrated by the Cog Lab experiment on false memories accessed through Argosy University. The experiment is outlined as follows: a participant is given a list of words that are highly relative in nature at a rate of about one word every 2 seconds. At the finish of the given list, the participant…

    • 1599 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Eyewitness Testimonies

    • 1381 Words
    • 6 Pages

    Reliability of Eyewitness Testimonies Based on Memory Memory most of the time is on the debate of its reliability, especially within the jury system and on eyewitness testimonies. The significance of eyewitness testimonies cannot be ignored, plus this plays as a crucial role in accusing the true culprit. Nevertheless, there are many innocent individuals, because of this, have to stay in prison for things that they have never done. Based on memory, there is no certain confidence that the testimonies describing…

    • 1381 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Eyewitness Testimony

    • 2060 Words
    • 9 Pages

    Eyewitness Memory is Unreliable Marc Green Introduction Eyewitness identifications greatly sway both police and juries. As the Thomson example illustrates, an eyewitness identification can even outweigh a strong alibi supported by other testimony. This is sometimes unfortunate because eyewitness memory is highly fallible. Memory errors fall into two classes: people can 1) either completely fail to recall an event or 2) have an inaccurate recollection. People have very different attitudes about…

    • 2060 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Eyewitness Testimony

    • 909 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Eyewitness testimony refers to people giving evidence to a crime or accident, on the basis of recalling sensory information that they have witnessed. It is important to the law and police to gather information about an investigative incident from people’s recollection of events to try to create an understanding of what took place. Elizabeth Loftus conducted many studies in relation to eyewitness testimony to find out the validity, reliability or lack of, when considering the evidence brought forward…

    • 909 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    level of analysis child eyewitness testimonies can be reliable and credible because children are less suggestible to the formation of false memories according to the Fuzzy Trace Theory. Suggestibility is the degree to which encoding, storage and retrieval of information when reporting events is manipulated by internal or external factors (Bruck & Ceci, 1997). False memories are a recollection of an event that has not actually occurred. On the other hand child eyewitness testimonies can be unreliable and…

    • 558 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Eyewitness Testimony

    • 1977 Words
    • 8 Pages

    (1973). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Japanese edition: Iwanami Shoten Publishers, Tokyo. Human Memory: The Processing of Information. Loftus, G.R. & Loftus, E.F. (1976) Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum Associates. Japanese edition: University of Tokyo Press. Cognitive Processes. Bourne, L.E., Dominowski, R. L., & Loftus, E.F. (1979). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Eyewitness Testimony. Loftus, E.F. (1979). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.(National Media Award, Distinguished Contribution…

    • 1977 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Better Essays

    eyewitness testimony

    • 1240 Words
    • 4 Pages

    reasons why the reliability of eyewitness testimony in the United States judicial system today is all but flawed. There is only one way a witness can identify a suspect who has committed a crime, and it is called face to face recognition. Just getting a glimpse, bad weather, and bad lighting can hinder what a person can truly see. There have been several accounts of individuals that have been convicted, imprisoned, and put to death off of flawed testimonies by an eyewitness. In this I will attempt to…

    • 1240 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Eyewitness Testimony

    • 577 Words
    • 3 Pages

    however, that eyewitness testimony may not be as reliable as it was long thought to be. In fact, eyewitnesses commonly misidentify people and misremember events. As a result, many have been falsely convicted of serious crimes, including robbery, assault and murder. The Innocence Project reports that 70 percent of convictions, which were eventually overturned based on DNA testing, involved eyewitness misidentifications.…

    • 577 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    indirect exposure to misinformation have an effect on eyewitness memory and testimony? 2. What is your hypothesis or hypotheses? What is the null hypothesis? Hypothesis: If one is exposed to misinformation then it can lead to distortions in human memory for genuinely experienced events, as well as details of people, things, and places and eyewitness’s can be misled leading them to depict false information. Null Hypothesis: There is no affect to human memory, genuinely experienced events, nor details of people…

    • 1682 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Better Essays