Loftus And Palmer Reconstruction Of Eyewitness Testimony

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Elizabeth F. Loftus and John C. Palmer carried out a number of experiments with the purpose of discovering the scientific link and interaction between language and memory. For many years, Loftus has focused mainly on how information relates to the wording of a question and visual imagery and how it can influence an individual’s eyewitness testimony. This was demonstrated in the study conducted by Loftus and Palmer in 1974 ‘Reconstruction of Automobile Destruction’ which tested the hypothesis that an eyewitness testimony can be altered by the type of language used. To test this, Loftus and Palmer designed two experiments where the participants viewed a series of videos portraying automobile accidents and were then asked to answer specially …show more content…

The independent variable in this case was the type of questions asked. After a week, more questions were asked about the clip they had previously seen and if they had witnessed any broken glass within the clip. The participants who saw the verb ‘smashed’ were more likely to claim that they saw broken glass than the other groups. Loftus and Palmer concluded that memory can be easily manipulated and distorted by the type of questions asked and that the information can merge with a memory already stored causing inaccuracy. “The results from experiment two suggest that this effect is not just due to a response-bias because leading questions actually altered the memory a participant had for the event.” (McLeod, S, 2014).
During experiment one, Loftus and Palmer used forty-five participants who were split into groups of diverse sizes and were shown seven video clips which all depicted automobile accidents. The clips were segments from a driver’s education film and ranged from five to thirty seconds in length. After each clip, the participants were asked a series of specially generated questions which included the question that asked the participants to recall what they had just seen with other questions that followed. The most critical question asked was about the speed of the vehicles and had the purpose of discovering if the wording of the question impacts the answer the participant gives. For

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