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The reliability of eyewitness testimony

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  1. Eyewitness testimony refers to the statement given by a witness to an event
  2. Loftus and Palmer (1974) aimed to investigate the effects of leading questions on eyewitness' ability to recall information
  3. Loftus and Palmer acknowledged that there may be another factor affecting the results
  4. Yuille and Cutshall (1986) used a real-life incident to study whether stress and anxiety has an effect on ability to recall
  5. Pickel (1998) used laboratory experiments to investigate whether poor ability to recall an incident was due to a weapon being seen and causing high levels of stress
  6. The participants were then told to complete a filler task for 10 minutes
  7. From these results, Pickel understood that the handgun and raw chicken resulted in the poorest recall of the man,
  8. Both Loftus and Palmer (1974) and Pickel (1998) prove against the reliability of eyewitness testimony,

Eyewitness testimony refers to the statement given by a witness to an event, and is a major area of research in cognitive psychology but also has a major effect on criminological psychology, such as being asked to describe the appearance of a suspect, or a detailed account of what occurred before, during and after a certain crime was committed. It is important because in some cases no forensic evidence can be traced, and investigators have no choice but to rely on the memory of witnesses.

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