Why Is Eyewitness Testimony Unreliable

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An eyewitness testimony is unreliable because of many different things. Sometimes when witnesses see something they don’t see the whole crime, but only parts which could cause the wrong people to be in trouble. When it’s a serious crime the trial could take years and when asked to stand trial against the perpetrator the witness’s memory could not be fully correct anymore. You could forget important things or get mixed up with things you’ve seen somewhere else, like in a movie. Another reason they are unreliable is Because individuals with certain psychological disorders, like antisocial personality disorder and substance dependence, are at high risk for criminal involvement, they are also at high risk for false identifications by eyewitnesses.…show more content…
Also they could lie for the perpetrator so then when they get out of jail or prison they don’t come after the witness, like in a domestic abuse case, or a rape case. Many people believe that the human memory works like a video recorder like the mind records events and then, on cue, plays back an exact replica of them. Psychologists have found that the memories are reconstructed rather then played back each time we recall them. On this website ( paragraph 4) they state that “The act of remembering, says eminent memory researcher and psychologist Elizabeth F. Loftus of the University of California, Irvine, is ‘more akin to putting puzzle pieces together than retrieving a video recording.’ Even questioning by a lawyer can alter the witness’s testimony because fragments of the memory may unknowingly be combined with information provided by the questioner, leading to inaccurate recall.” The more violent the event, the least likely it is that the witness or victim will remember the event with accuracy. There are a number of factors can reduce the accuracy of eyewitness identifications for example; extreme witness stress at the crime scene or during the identification process, presence of weapons at the crime; because they can…show more content…
On the other hand, there are many situations where criminals go free because eyewitnesses were unable to identify them. With Dr. Brewer he had a different idea knowing that strong memory traces are easier to access than weak and mistaken ones, which is why he only gives his witnesses two seconds to make up their minds. Once they make up their mind he also asks them to estimate how confident they are about the suspects they identified, rather than insisting on a simple yes or no answer. With this version of the lineup he had a large boost in accuracy and the eyewitness performance ranged from 21%-66%. Dr. brewer learned that when it comes to the human mind that more discussion is often dangerous. Instead of simply evaluating our familiarity with a suspect’s face, we begin searching for clues and guidance. Sometimes this involves picking the person who looks the most suspicious, even if we’ve never seen him before, or being persuaded by the indirect hints of police officers and lawyers. As a result, we talk ourselves into having a memory that doesn’t actually exist. (Jonah Lehrer
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