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Posts Tagged ‘Eyewitness Testimony’

Can Sleepiness Affect Your Eyewitness Memory?

November 23rd, 2015 No comments

It’s a given that as college students, we all feel tired from time to time. Well, maybe more than from time to time. Walking across campus, have you ever heard people saying things like “I got two hours of sleep last night,” “I slept terribly last night,” “I’m going to pass out right now,” or something along those lines? I’m sure you have at some point. sleepiness 1

We have all heard that it’s important to get our sleep. This is partly because there has been a lot of research showing that our episodic memory, or memory for specific details and events, is better after a period of sleep. For example, if you were to go out on the town and attend a show, your memory for the details and events of that show would be better the next day if you got eight hours of sleep, as opposed to staying out in the city all night. One reason for this phenomenon is that a function of sleep is consolidation (Diekelmann & Born, 2010), or the neural process by which memories are strengthened and more permanently stored. The more sleep you get, the more consolidation occurs, and the better your memories become.

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Is Recalling Always Good?–The Possible Dangers of Recalling

November 23rd, 2014 3 comments

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The act of recalling–we do it so casually and frequently without much thought; whether it’s recalling questions from an exam when you are discussing with friends questions you couldn’t figure out, or subconsciously remembering what the acquaintance was like while hearing rumors about him/her. Recalling might not be all so good–at least not as much as we might think it is. We don’t usually question the accuracy of the information we take in. However, it turns out to be that the accuracy of information becomes important, especially after the act of recalling (retrieving any information from memory). Through recalling an event, we enhance our ability to take in new information relevant to the event; if the new information is an accurate account of the event, our accuracy on the memory of the event is enhanced, but if the information is misleading or wrong, we take in the misleading information into our memory as well as we do of an accurate event. In the case of discussing an exam question with a friend, if the friend gives you inaccurate information, your possibly accurate prior memory could be “overwritten” with the wrong information your friend just provided. And in the case of hearing a rumor about an acquaintance, you could have a positive memory about the person before, but because of the rumor, which might be right or wrong, your memory could paint a new picture of him/her over the positive image that you used to have. Without being aware, we are making ourselves susceptible to taking in misinformation through just a simple act of recall. This could become very problematic at times; especially in eyewitness testimonies where their account makes a huge impact on what could be decided in court.

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Are Eyewitness Accounts Trustworthy?!

May 2nd, 2014 3 comments

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Ever wonder how accurate eyewitness accounts actually are?  Picture yourself sitting in a room conversing with police officers about a crime that you witnessed earlier that day.  Will you be able to remember every detail of the event and people involved?  Was all of your attention focused on the crime and no other factors?  How can we be sure that every memory of the event is even true?  Eyewitness accounts in general have been a topic of concern for these very reasons.  Many defendants are proven guilty based on eyewitness accounts; some of which consist of distorted/untrue statements.  To read more about this topic, click here.   Due to these issues, there is a growing interest in researching eyewitness testimonies in psychology, especially in the cognitive field. Read more…

Do You Remember What Happened? The Power of Memory Distortion

May 1st, 2014 2 comments

A memory is an event we remember from our past. We have memories of the first time we rode a bike, the time we graduated high school, our first boyfriend/girlfriend and even memories of where we were on 9/11. We believe that our memories are true recollections of what happened, and that what we remember is accurate. However, this isn’t always true; memories are fallible even under the best conditions. In fact, false memories, implanted memories and misinformation are very likely to distort our memory.

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Your Eyes Can Give You Away

May 1st, 2014 7 comments

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That face. I know that face. How do I know that face? Do I wave? Do I know them that well? Everyone has had that experience where they recognize someone’s face, and you may know absolutely nothing about the person, but you know you’ve seen their face before.

How can we recognize people’s faces so easily? Facial recognition is a highly specialized process, and is incredibly accurate. Facial features such as the eyes, nose, mouth, the distance between features, and the shapes of features help us to identity a person’s face.  But when we are in a very emotional situation, are we still as good at facial recognition as we are in regular situations? Read more…

How to steal exit signs and escape being identified by eyewitnesses (A Satirical Post)

December 7th, 2013 4 comments

steal-signMany say that college is the time to relax and make memories before the work begins and the soul dies. However, the average and uncreative college student will spend these precious four years binge drinking cheap beer and making a mockery out of the fine sport that is Ping-Pong. I say, why aim for a hangover that will eventually leave you when you can have a stolen exit sign from the Alfond Complex that will be your lifetime companion? Yes, fellow Colby students, it’s about time that we bring it up a notch and follow the philosophy of Nate Ruess from the indie band Fun, which encourages youth to “set the world on fire.” While you “set the world on fire,” it is best not to be seen by others. However, that is a hard feat to accomplish, as dorms are usually high traffic areas. It is best to expect the presence of witnesses to the crime and take the proper precautions. This how-to article will teach you the proper ways to steal exit signs while decreasing the chances of being identified by eyewitnesses.

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Categories: Memory Tags: ,

Exonerate the Innocent!

November 26th, 2013 6 comments

Many innocent people are wrongly convicted of crimes every year, and many of these wrongful convictions are due to a mistaken identification during eyewitness testimony. In many criminal investigations, eyewitness identification can be a deciding factor in the case. The Innocence Project (2012) has exonerated 289 people in the U.S. based on DNA evidence. About 75% of those wrongfully imprisoned were people mistakenly identified in a line-up. (To learn more about the Innocence Project, click here.) Surprisingly, recent data have shown that approximately a third of witnesses for line-ups are children younger than 16 years old. The data also show that about a third of these children under 16 are likely to make a false identification of an innocent person as the culprit. It goes without saying that there can be very serious and severe outcomes for people as a result of false identification. For these reasons, research on eyewitness testimony has become more important and prominent in recent times.  Read more…

False Memories in the News: Are Pictures Worth MORE Than 1,000 Words?

November 26th, 2013 4 comments

Close your eyes and imagine every news story you’ve ever heard in your life. What do you picture? You probably remember the big events: 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, etc. The flashbulb memories; the ones you remember in perfect clarity to the point where you could even remember where you were and what you were doing when you found out about the event. You also remember these events in pictures, right? In all likelihood, you don’t remember the news anchor sitting there telling you about the day, or the words printed on a newspaper. You remember images of the event. Those are the ones that stick in your brain. Well what if those pictures cause people to falsely remember events in the news?

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Innocent Criminal: The Science behind Inaccurate Eye-witness Testimony.

April 30th, 2013 8 comments

Innocent Criminal: The Science behind Inaccurate Eye-witness Testimony

Ever noticed CSI shows? Every time a crime is committed, the potential perpetrator is told to stand behind a glass frame. Along with him or her are more people. What’s intriguing about all of this is that every single “false criminal” looks very similar to the original criminal. Whether it be the tattoos, the similar age, or maybe even the clothing, there is a sense of similarity across the spectrum. That similarity is done for a reason. Suspects who have distinctive features like a birthmark or scar were the easiest to identify in a line-up. To prevent any bias, all those in the lineup have similar features and physical stature to the perpetrator. While in theory this seems legitimate, in reality there are flaws. Previous research has shown that older adults show a decline in visual discrimination over time. Recollection of facts and events gets more difficult as people age, so older adults struggle to connect faces to distinctive features. This supports the idea that older adults with associative deficit hypothesis have a harder time identifying distinct features of a face when they are presented with other faces that look familiar.

Research has shown that eyewitness testimony is not a very accurate way to identify suspects who may have committed a crime; yet, eyewitness testimony is one of the most critical pieces of evidence that investigators use to build a case. New research is being done to figure out ways that law enforcement can help individuals who may have witnessed a crime, properly identify the perpetrator. Distinctive features such as moles or tattoos are things that help differentiate people. Witnesses rely heavily on these distinctive features when they are asked to identify a suspect.

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Categories: Aging, Memory Tags: ,

Remembering the deceitful in one glance

April 30th, 2013 5 comments

I remember my cousin giving me tips on how to be left alone while riding the subway. “Wear a hooded sweatshirt that is too big for you,” Chris said, “and also wear headphones with music too loud, rap is always good. And put on a mean look, like you’re not someone to mess with; be unfriendly. No one wants to mess with me when I do that, they take one look at me and they stay away. It usually gets me a bench all to myself.” At first, hearing this surprised me. I couldn’t believe that people were that quick to judge others but I found myself thinking of all the times I had ridden on the bus or train. With one glance at someone I was able to make judgments on whether or not to sit near them. Chris’ description of how to keep people away fit my own judgment of who to stay clear of. That was when I first realized how much people rely on first impressions. Most times, our first impressions are based on the appearance of a person; their physical appearance.  Our judgments are usually quick and automatic and don’t necessarily change until we interact with the other person more.

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