Eyewitness Memory

Eyewitness memory is a very questionable piece of evidence when presented in court. About 75 percent of DNA-based exonerations have come in cases where witnesses got it wrong. The memory of a witness is easily subject to change and can be altered by a simple suggestion from anyone. The memory of a witness varies depending on the emotions experienced, and the pressure from society to correctly recall and retell the events of the crime. The presence of a weapon also distracts the witness and causes them to pay more attention to the weapon than to the actual perpetrator.


Im sure we all came across someone, or experienced a time where someone started talking about a memory and another party who didnt even experience that memory began to lie about it just to fit in. Since we are all psychologists the term we use is called Imagination Inflation. Jimmy Kimmel did a segment called “Lie Witness News” where he asks pedestrians about an event that hasnt happened yet and asks them to elaborate. Most of the participants lied so they wont look stupid.

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Eyewitness Misidentification


Marvin Anderson was convicted of rape, abduction, sodomy, and robbery, largely on the basis of an eyewitness misidentification.  Anderson was sentenced to 210 years prison but he only served 15 years in prison before DNA testing proved his innocence and won his freedom. The sad part about this case is, basically the rapist told the lady that he raped, that he had a white girlfriend.  Being that Anderson was the only black male that had a white girlfriend in that area, he was considered a suspect, and eventually charge for a crime that he did not commit.

False Eyewitness

This is a brief movie trailer called Murder/Injustice: Mario’s Story. It briefly talks about Mario Rocha when he was 16yrs old attending a party one late night. At the party, a fight occur, causing someone to get shot and killed.  Mario was convicted of murder and attempted murder on the basis of one witness and not a shred of physical evidence. He is now free, but prior to him being release from prison, he served 10yrs.

False memory and Interrogations

Here is an article that summarizes a study conducted in the UK regarding episodic memory manipulation ( False memories). It’s some fascinating stuff! I began reading it and thought to myself ” no way I could ever be convinced of doing something I didn’t do”, but the research doesn’t lie!


Protecting and Enhancing Eyewitness Memory

Hope, L., Gabbert, F., Fisher, R. P., & Jamieson, K. (2014). Protecting and Enhancing Eyewitness Memory: The Impact of an Initial Recall Attempt on Performance in an Investigative Interview. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 28(3), 304-313.

This article stresses the importance of protecting and enhancing eyewitness memory by focusing on two particular forms of evidence- gathering, SAI and free recall (FR). In order to make this study successful it was designed to have sixty participants view a videotaped staged crime and then be randomly split into three groups (SAI, control or FR). Afterwards all participants watched a stimulus event, and the SAI and FR group were asked to recall the experience immediately. A week later all three groups were given a cognitive interview and the results found that SAI facilitated a higher quality initial recall as well as significantly higher total correct than the other groups.