Eyewitness Testimony And Its Impact On The Outcome Of A Trial

892 WordsNov 10, 20164 Pages
How Accurate Are Eyewitness Testimonies? Have you ever been a witness to a crime? Would you feel comfortable if prosecutors relied on your eye witness testimony alone for a conviction? According to “The Magic of the Mind”, eyewitness testimony which relies on the accuracy of human memory, has an enormous impact on the outcome of a trial. Eyewitness testimony is a legal term. During an eyewitness testimony, the witness usually goes into an account of the crime he or she has witnessed. This can include details of the crime or identification of perpetrators. Eyewitness testimony is an important area of research in cognitive psychology and human memory (simplypsychology.com). Eyewitness testimony can be affected by many psychological factors such as: • Anxiety/ Stress • Reconstructive Memory • Weapon Focus • Leading Questions during trial There is almost always a great deal of anxiety or stress associated with crimes of violence. There was a study conducted that showed that people who saw a film of a violent attack, remembered fewer of the 40 items of information about the event than a control group who saw a less stressful version (Clifford and Scott, 1978). So does that mean the more stress a person is under, the less likely that person will be able to recall key specifics about a crime he or she has witnessed? However, there was a study by Yuille and Cutshall (1986) that contradicted the importance of stress influencing eyewitness memory. The study showed the witnesses of a
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