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The Importance Of Eyewitness Testimony Essay

652 words - 3 pages

This essay is going to look at eye witness testimony. It will discuss whether or not it is reliable and studies will be looked at and evaluated to either back up or refute eyewitness reliability.
A witness is someone who has firsthand knowledge about a crime through their senses and can certify to its happening and someone who has seen an event at firsthand is known as an eyewitness.
Witnesses are often called before a court of law to testify in trials and their testimony is considered crucial in the identification and arrest of a suspect and the likelihood of a jury convicting a defendant.
Eyewitness testimony needs to be reliable as it can have serious implications to the perceived guilt/innocence of a defendant.
Bartlett’s study involved the Indian folk story ‘War of the Ghosts’. He wanted to investigate the effect of schema on participant’s recall of a story. Participants were asked to read the story and then asked to recall it after a period of time. He found that the story became shorter and participants often added their own interpretation and the whole theme of the ghosts was often forgotten. Bartlett decided that memory is not accurate and is actively constructed using schemas.
A study by Loftus and Palmer in 1974 looked at the effects of language on recall in eyewitness testimony. They wanted to show that leading questions could have an effect on the memory. Participants were shown a video of a car accident and then, as if they were eyewitnesses they were asked to describe what had happened.

Specific questions were asked including “about how fast the cars were going when they hit / smashed / collided / bumped / contacted. A week later the participants were asked “did you see the broken glass”. The findings showed that the estimated speed was affected by the verb used in the question. The group with the verb smashed estimated the...

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