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Psychological Research Shows That Eyewitness Testimony Is Not Always Accurate, Therefore It Should Not Be Used In The Criminal Justice System. Dis...

1394 words - 6 pages

A system variable is something that can be controlled by the justice system and the methods such as line-ups, base rates and questioning. One of the most talked about system variables amongst researchers is the methods that are used in eyewitness questioning by police. Some of the techniques that have been used in the past are that of closed ended questioning, interrupting regularly whilst the witness is trying to recollect the events and the interviewer talking more and over the top of the interviewee. A study of interviews were conducted showing that law enforcement interviewing eyewitnesses were seen to be asking closed questions every 42 seconds in comparison to open ended question which were asked at an estimated 6 minutes and the number of repeated questions were only averaging 1% per minute. Constant interruptions, whether they be from the interviewers or were noises from things moving around in the room, were a major distraction to the eyewitness breaking their concentration in giving specific information in regards to the crime. Data also showed that investigators were not letting the witness give the evidence or testimony at their own pace and in doing so ended up speaking over top of the witness and cutting them off which in turn showed that the eyewitness from then on in the interview only gave short answers and not as much information as they would’ve if they were left to give the interview at their own pace (Wright & Alison, 2004).

When children are giving eyewitness testimony’s, the investigators techniques are a little different in terms of the repetition of questions. This is sometimes to get them to remember more information from when they asked it in the first instance. Whilst law enforcement are questioning children, it is correct protocol to let the child know at the beginning that it is ok for them to answer 'I don't know' to an question but Krahenbuhl, Blades and Eiser (2009) show in their study that children, when being interviewed, would rather make up an answer instead of saying that they didn't know the answer. The child also found it extremely hard to answer 'I don't know' even to a question that was asked the first time and not repeated. Krahenbuhl et al's study also examined the accuracy to repeated questions over a different range of ages. The results showed the accuracy of answers to questions that had been repeated to them during an interview increased as the child got older. It also suggested that if a question was asked that the interviewer knew couldn't be answered, the accuracy of the responses went down once it was asked more times than once. Effects of the intervals at which the repeated questions were asked were studied and it was shown that this had no effect on the child's answers to any questions that they were asked throughout the interview. Both adult and children's eyewitness testimony through questioning needs to be extremely accurate so if a line-up needs to take place, then they have more of a...

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