Eye Witness Testimony

Essay question:
Outline and evaluate the research into eyewitness testimony.
There has been a vast amount of interest into eyewitness testimony (EWT). EWT investigates the accuracy of memory following a crime or incident worth interrogating and the types of errors made in such situations.
Sometimes EWT can be unreliable, which can lead to horrific consequences in a court of law.
Problems can occur at any point in the memory process, whether it is during acquisition, during storage or during retrieval. A number of different types of research have taken place to understand the reasoning for mistaken and unreliable EWT, one reason for mistaken EWT is anxiety.
When considering the reliability of EWT, it is important to bear in mind the type of crime that is being recalled. Some crimes, such as those involving violence, are associates with high levels of anxiety in victims or spectators. Whether anxiety really does lead to unreliable remembering depends on many factors.
Loftus 191979) reported a lab study which demonstrated the huge role that anxiety can play during EWT. Participants were in two situations, one, a low key discussion which results in a person emerging from a room with a pen in his hand, and the other, a heated argument resulting in breaking of glass, smashing of chairs and man emerging holding a bloodstained knife. Participants were then given 50 photos and asked to identify the person.
The findings were that witnessed who had seen the man holding the knife emerge accurately identified him, 44% of the time, whereas the participants who saw the man carrying the bloodstained knife only identified him 33%. This finding has come to be known as ‘weapon focus.’ This is where the witnesses concentrate on the weapon rather than the person holding it, to enable them to feel safer if they know where the weapon is. However, this study can be criticised.

This study is a laboratory study . The variables in a lab study can be manipulated so therefore...