Outline and evaluate research into anxiety on eye witness testimony. A01
Conflicting findings have been found into the relationship between anxiety and EWT. Laboratory results have generally found that witnesses who experience anxiety inducing or particularly unpleasant events have impaired recall. Loftus and Burns conducted a study into the effect of anxiety on recall. Participants were either shown a video whereby a boy was shot in the face, or whereby they were shown the boy was uninjured. It was found that the participants who saw the boy shot in the face showed significant recall from events leading up to the incident. This suggests that anxiety does indeed impair recall. A study was also conducted to investigate the effects of anxiety on EWT by Loftus et al. Loftus and colleagues used the weapon focus effect. Participants were put into two conditions. Condition one listened to a hostile discussion where by a man emerged carrying a paper knife covered in blood. While condition two listened to a low key discussion, where by a man emerged with greased hands carrying a pen. Both groups were then asked to identify the man from 50 photographs. It was found that the anxiety produced by the film impaired recall in both groups. However, accuracy of recall was 33% for the hostile exchange and was 49% for the low key discussion. This suggests that higher levels of anxiety cause impaired recall. Loftus concluded that the focus was on the weapon and so impaired recall when identifying the man from the photographs. Yerkes-Dodson law has also suggested that a certain amount of anxiety is good for recall. Not too much or too low. A02
There are ethical concerns with the two studies mentioned. The participants who experiences the hostile exchange and the boy getting shot in the face were very distressed afterwards. Therefore it can be argued that they were not fully protected from psychological harm. The sight of blood was seen as very upsetting for some. The studies were...
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