Eyewitness Testimony

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By riyaz76
Words 1683
Pages 7
Eyewitness testimony is a legal term. It is the detailed account given by a witness in a courtroom, describing what they perceived happened during the specific incident under investigation. This is used as evidence to show what happened from a witness’s point of view. Eyewitness testimony is a crucial area of research in cognitive psychology and human memory; studies into eyewitness testimony have found that it can be affected by many factors. Elizabeth Loftus, a leading researcher in eyewitness testimony, conducted studies to demonstrate that memory is not a factual recording of an event and that memories can become distorted by other information which occurs after the event.
Loftus and Palmer (1974) study consisted of two laboratory experiments; both were examples of an independent measures design. The independent variable in both of the experiments is the verb used. The dependent variable in the first experiment is the participant’s speed estimate and the dependent variable in the second experiment is whether the participant believed they saw glass.
In the first experiment 45 students from the University of Washington were shown video clips, short excerpts from safety films made for driver education, which were 5 to 30 seconds long. They were split into 5 groups, with 9 participants in each group. After each clip the students were asked to write a report of the accident they had just seen. They were also asked to answer some specific questions but the crucial question was ‘about how fast the cars were going when they _______ each other’. Each group was given a different verb to fill in the blank. The independent variable was the verb used, which were ‘smashed, collided, bumped, hit or contacted’. The whole experiment lasted about an hour and a half and the films were presented to each group in a different order.
The results showed that the critical word…...

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