Posts Tagged ‘Law’

Are Eyewitness Accounts Trustworthy?!

May 2nd, 2014 3 comments


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…

The Secret to Getting Out of Jury Duty

April 29th, 2014 No comments


Jury duty: two words that strike fear into even the most masculine of men. Often when people get their jury duty summons they spend inordinate amounts of time trying to figure out how to get out of it whether by claiming to be wildly biased (a rather conservative approach) or by creating a whole character of crazy a la Liz Lemon dressing up as Princess Leia and claiming, “I don’t really think it’s fair for me to be on a jury because I can read thoughts.” Either way, these tactics are often unsuccessful and you would most likely be better served by giving truthful answers to the qualifying questions than anything else.

In reality, if you know yourself and your mind, the truth might actually get you out of jury duty while also helping the court avoid a possible wrongful conviction. Although some cases are easily decided, the most ambiguous cases increase chance of wrongful conviction and application of heuristics in damaging ways. A heuristic, which is a mental shortcut that our brain creates in order to allow us to make quick decisions and judgments, is applied automatically when we approach a decision. However, because these heuristics may embody socially unacceptable implicit attitudes and beliefs, these automatic decisions can and often are overridden by controlled thinking. However, these heuristics may still be applied when the individual is using cognitive resources on other tasks. Research has shown that three factors play an important role in the jury member’s determination of defendant guilt: prejudice, working memory capacity (WMC), and cognitive load.

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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: ,

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: ,

The Faulty Eyewitness Testimony–I’m sure I saw him!

April 30th, 2013 4 comments

“Most cases don’t turn on DNA evidence. Most turn on eyewitness testimony and admissions by defendants.”

—-District Attorney General of U.S.—Barry P. Staubus

It’s often said that seeing is believing, but many times our memories can be  misleading or even completely inaccurate. It might be no big deal in our daily life to mistakenly remember something, but in a courtroom, it could possibly send an innocent man to prison or even to the electric chair. One of the most frequently used and widely accepted pieces of evidence in today’s trials is eyewitness testimony, in which a witness is asked to pick the potential suspect out of a lineup, or to describe the characteristics of the perpetrator so that the police could run it through the data base and come up with an ID. However, as our memories could potentially be inaccurate, eyewitness testimonies are not always 100 percent true. In a significant number of criminal trials, the identification could be completely wrong and because the witness is “very confident” about the identification, an innocent man would wind up in jail.

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