Eyewitness Testimony Essay

745 Words3 Pages
Eyewitness Testimony

Elizabeth Loftus has conducted many studies on eyewitness testimony (EWT).

In 1974 she worked with John Palmer to look at the ways that memory can be distorted. The studies general aim was to explore the accuracy of memory after witnessing a car accident. In particular it was to find out if leading questions distort the accuracy of eyewitness’s immediate recall. It also aimed to see if it was true that people were open to hints, as people are extremely bad at estimating the speed of moving cars.

45 students were shown 7films of different traffic accidents. After each film, participants were given a questionnaire asking them to describe the accident and then answer a
…show more content…
They may feel unsure about what to do and how to behave, and therefore would look for clues of what is expected from them.

In 1975 Loftus worked alone to conduct another study on EWT. She showed participants a short video of 8 demonstrators delivering a lecture. Participants were later given a questionnaire, containing the critical question: ‘was the leader of the 4 (or 12) demonstrators a male?’. one week later participants were asked several questions including one about the number of demonstrators. Those who had been asked about 4 demonstrators gave a mean answer of 6.4, while those asked about 12 demonstrators gave a mean of 8.9. This further supports the idea that post-event information effects following recall.

In 1974 Loftus described a fabricated case to 50 students. A man and his granddaughter had been murdered during a robbery at a grocery store. On the evidence presented just 9 students thought the suspect was guilty. Yet, another group of 50 students was told that there was an eyewitness who could identify the suspect. 36 participants from this group said that the suspect was guilty. A third set of students was additionally told that the witness was not wearing his glasses during the crime and so was unlikely to have seen the suspects face clearly. This study emphasizes the

Corall Ogugua.
Get Access