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Eye Witness Testimony Essay

899 words - 4 pages

Eye Witness Testimony

The language used by the police when interviewing witnesses and
barristers during a trial may influence answers given by witnesses,
this language may affect initial perception and subsequent recall.
Both of these effects are shown in the study by Loftus & Palmer
{1974).

My experiment into this field showed the leading question with the
`verb` contained the information about what the answer should be, thus
language can have a distorting effect on EWT, which can lead to
inaccurate accounts of the witnessed account. This was most certainly
true in the study carried out, most participants gave a higher
estimation of speed when the word in the critical question was changed
from bumped to crashed, although a small number of participants were
unable to estimate any speed at all. However the experiments were
carried out by untrained experimenters which could explain possible
confounding variables in the way that the experimenters could have
unknowingly in their over-zealousness to prove the experimental
hypothesis may have led participants by using tone of voice, facial
expressions ect to respond accordingly.

Studies into ways of improving the reliability of EWT to help prevent
convicting innocent people, it is essential that steps are taken to
improve the reliability of eyewitness accounts. EWT has considered
hypnosis in an attempt to access repressed memories, a study whether
hypnosis increased participant's accuracy of recall by Putman {1979}
concluded participants were more suggestible in the hypnotic state and
are therefore, more easily influenced by the leading questions,
however further research into this area found that some people may be
more able to recall a personal traumatic event under hypnosis, if it
has a deeper significance for them.

Current serving police officers of today state they use The Cognitive
Interview Technique when interviewing witnesses. With this approach
the witness is asked to recall details of the incident in various
different orders and to recall everything they remember whether they
feel it is relevant or not, recall the event from a different
perspective, such as that of another witness. Before the nineties,
questioning was done very much on `critical questioning sometimes
oppressive questioning which could produce unsafe information thus
...

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