The effect of misinformation on memory recall for an eyewitness event Essay Example
The effect of misinformation on memory recall for an eyewitness event Essay Example

The effect of misinformation on memory recall for an eyewitness event Essay Example

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  • Pages: 6 (1558 words)
  • Published: December 24, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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Eyewitness testimony has increased our understanding of the processes and mechanisms behind memory encoding, updating and retrieval. The aim of current project was to examine the effect of misleading information (misinformation) on recall of central and peripheral details of a crime event. The experiment will be based on a mixed design with the presence or absence of Misinformation as the between-subjects factor and Focus of question (central or peripheral) as the within-subjects factor. The hypothesis is that Misinformation will affect memory recall and there will be a different on recalling central and peripheral events. If our hypothesis is correct then it is predicted that misinformation will lead to less accurate memory recall and central events are remembered better than peripheral events.

The results shown it is significant to the prediction. It indicated that there was a significant diffe


rence in recall of events between the misinformation and the control groups.Eyewitness testimony has been seen as a powerful justice tool and it is a readily accepted form of evidences. Although eyewitness errors will be continued made by witnesses because of the memory recall errors, it is believed that eyewitness testimony can play a beneficial part in the criminal justice system. It is because if the witnesses' identification is correct, it would help the judgement more effectively and thus focus their recourses more efficiently. (Malpass ; Kochnken, 1995)Eyewitness testimony has increased our understanding of the processes and mechanisms behind memory encoding.

There are three levels of encoding which are structural encoding, phonemic encoding and semantic encoding. The former one is a shallow level which only emphasis on the physical structural characteristics of the stimulus. The second one is

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a moderate level and emphasis on the sounds and the last one, which is considered the deep processing, emphasis on the meaning. According to Shiffrin (1988), the more attention capacity that is available at any one time, the more one can use meaning and then the later selection. Therefore the degree of accurate memory recall from witnesses vary depends on the levels of their encoding during the criminal happened.

There are several factors which affect our eyewitness memory; firstly, the weapon focus is believed to affect most in recalling criminal event. (Loftus et al, 1987) When a weapon is present in a criminal event, witnesses and victim were more likely to focus on the weapon rather than the other things. Hence, their recall on this eyewitness will have a less accurate result. Moreover, witnesses and victims were believed to be remembered central information better than peripheral information.

That is, when there is a crime happening, subjects will focus on the assailant and victims more than the others cues which may also help the judgement more effective.In eyewitness testimony, it is said that recall is not an exact detail of original events. It is affected by the post-event information and a recall construction built and rebuilt from various sources. The schema effect, which is a mental representation of an object, scene or event, will occur to affect the accuracy of the eyewitness testimony as well. Misinformation, in this case can update our eyewitness memory and hence it lead us to misremembering some details from the criminal events.

For example, in this experiment the victim was wearing trousers rather than skirt. However, if participants were asked for more

details about the skirt such as the colour of it, it appears that participants will agree the victim was really wearing a skirt later on.Not only that, individual differences appear to have a great affect on eyewitness memory, for example with different personality traits, the memory functioning will be different and researches found that self-preoccupied subjects were poor witnesses. (Siegel ; Loftus, 1978).

Also, stress and anxious will decrease subjects' memory performance as well.The aim of the study was to examine the effect of misleading information on the memory recall of central and peripheral event. There are three hypotheses: first of all, regarding the factor of Misinformation proposes that misinformation will affect memory recall. Second, regarding the factor of Focus proposes that central event details will be remembered differently compared to peripheral details. Finally, regarding the relationship between Misinformation and Focus proposes that misinformation will affect central and peripheral details differently.

We will examine the hypotheses by using a typically used procedure in eyewitness research. A video clip, distracters one, questionnaires one, distracters two and questionnaires two will be given out to participants chronologically. If the hypothesis that misleading information affects memory for events then we predict it will lead to less accurate memory recall of event details. If the hypothesis that central events are remembered differently than peripheral events is correct, then we expect central details will be remembered better than peripheral details. If the hypothesis that misleading information affects memory for central events differently from memory for peripheral events then we predict central events will be less susceptible to misinformation than peripheral events.MethodParticipantsParticipants included 20 students at Swansea University with zero of them

studying psychology, which included 12 males and 8 females.

The average age of the participants was 22.75 years, with a range of 19-28 years. All of the participants remained anonymous to the researchers and all of them reported normal vision or corrected-to-normal vision. All of them had not done the same kind of experiments before and participants were consented to participate in this study by signing a consent form.StimuliThe stimuli were slides that depicted the event before, during and after a handbag-snatching criminal incident.

Each slide was presented to participants onto a screen for 3 seconds, by using Microsoft PowerPoint. The slides were from Catrin Jones and Cathryn Lloyd-Davies. Apart from presenting the video to participants, there are two types of questionnaires will be given to participants as well. Phase 1 questionnaires consisted of central and peripheral questions, for example, one of the central questions is "What colour is the main garage door?", and one of the peripheral questions is "What is all over the floor?" The second part of questionnaires (phase 2) was also consisted both central and peripheral type of questions, for example, the central question is: "Where is the motorbike logo on the assailant's clothing?" and the peripheral question is: "What colour was the closest car to the left of the screen?" Distracter tasks were included in the experiment and were used in-between viewing the event and Phase 1 questionnaire and in-between phase 1 and phase 2 questionnaires.ApparatusAll trial presentations were controlled by Microsoft PowerPoint and were presented via laptop.

The screen image measured approximately 0.30m x 0.20m.DesignThe study was based on a mixed design.

Participants were divided into two groups and

take parts in two different questionnaires based on the same video clip. The within-subject factor will be focus of the question and will have two levels: Central and peripheral, all participants were required to finish both of the levels. The between-subject factor will be the group and will have two levels: half of them were in control group and half of them were in misinformation group. The first part of questionnaires contained 12 questions and the second part of questionnaires contained 6 questions.

Each part of the questionnaires contained central and peripheral types. The dependent measure will be recall accuracy calculated in percentage. Distracter tasks and questionnaires were allocated to participants by the counterbalancing method.ProcedureParticipants were divided into two groups. The first group was misleading group and the second group is control group. Participants were allocated to conditions randomly by the experimenters.

Several ethical considerations have been concerned. First, participants have to understand what they are going to do in the study; they have also been told that the questionnaire is about an eyewitness testimony. Second, they have to understand that they can withdrawal anytime if they want. Third, a consent form will be given to participants before they started, they have to sign it in order to confirm they understand what they are required to do and they can quit the experiment at anytime if they want. Since the video clip is about a criminal event, therefore there are foreseeable potential risks to participants. It may recall participants' similar experiences in the past which make them feel uncomfortable and also the knife in the video may affect participants' emotions.

Regarding these potential risks, contact details

of student counselling service is provided in the debriefing form. Participants were all welcome to contact them for any further queries. Finally all data will be kept confidential and participants' results will not be recognized. This experiment contains the same risks to both experimenters and participants as mentioned above.This experiment took place in a private environment, which was a room provided by the experimenters and only one participant could take part in the experiment each time.

The participant received an information sheet which informed them of the nature of the study. Before playing the video clip to participants, they were required to sign the consent form in order to make sure they understood how the experiment is going to run and they could withdraw from the experiment at anytime. The participant's task was to finish a 3 minutes distracter sheet followed by phase 1 questionnaires, then a second distracter sheet will be given to participants again and again, they will have 3 minutes to finish it. After that, phase 2 questionnaires were given to them before they received the debriefing form.

Only correct answers will be recorded for the results.

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