What Effect Does Mis-Leading Post Event Information Have on Eye Witness Testimony

What effect does misleading post event information have on eye witness testimony?

For many years the criminal justice system and various other agencies have relied heavily upon the use of eye witness testimony and in the human ability to accurately produce one. In numerous cases and trials eye witness testimony has been the back bone of both the prosecution and the defence and has led to millions of convictions throughout the world. It too has been a useful tool in the apprehension of criminals in the first instance, for example using eye witness descriptions of the offender. However due to the controversy and difference of opinions surrounding the brains ability to accurately recall events after being subjected to misleading post event information, eye witness testimonies are also the very reason that we see so many acquittals. This is due to the fact that within a court of law any case brought forward has to be proven ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’ so if the case is built solely on eyewitness testimony once a shadow of doubt is cast upon the witnesses ability to recall accurately the sequence of events the jury/judge has no option but to acquit.
It has been exhaustively argued and researched that an individual’s memory of events can be altered and/or manipulated through misleading post event information. The last 30 years or so has seen much discussion, controversy and studies being conducted in regards to, and surrounding the topic of our cognitive ability to firstly retain and then recall information accurately. This has resulted in several different hypothesis being formulated and has now created the Destructive updating hypothesis vs. the Co-Existence Hypothesis debate.
Within real life context misleading information can come about in many ways, and there are several factors that influence individual susceptibility to said misleading information. The body of this essay will serve in outlining some of the many theories and hypothesis that have been...