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This paper explores five articles that were published online all of which analyze the significance of eyewitness testimonies and the misinformation effect that may arise.An eyewitness is a person that sees some act, thing or occurrence and gives a first-hand account on it. Eyewitnesses are so highly regarded as they are largely believed to be sure of what they saw and in most cases regarded as those who are telling the truth above other people. Given that eyewitnesses are, as a matter of fact, at the scene of an occurrence, they observe everything that happens. However, too much information, which the eyewitnesses gather after the occurrence makes them biased that they only remember episodic events. The misinformation turns some eyewitnesses into perpetrators of myths and incorrect information which is then fit to an-easy-to-believe theory. This paper explores the usefulness of eyewitnesses and the effect of misinformation that comes later along with some theories developed to try and explain the events. It further looks into how one can alienate the truth from false theories after an occurrence, especially a tragic one. Abstrac
Eye Witnesses and Misinformation Effect
This paper analyzes how misinformation of eyewitnesses, wording of interview questions, post warning of witnesses, manipulation of memories by speakers and misleading children by using inappropriate non-verbal cues influences the memories of a witness. It further analyzes the methodologies applied and their limitations.
In Vaitl et al.‘s (2017) summary article focuses on a test was conducted on seventy five participants with a fully-randomized video with nine randomized details. The participants were left for ten minutes after which they were given a narrative text which had six fake details in the sense that only three original details were in the text as in the video. The three retained details cued memories that were however affected by the misleading details in the text narrative. The levels of confidence were assessed. The participants were convinced that they were giving the right information.
In Higham et al.’s (2017) the article focuses on the effects of post warnings on the testimonies given by eyewitnesses. This article looks into the extent of the specificity of the details that the eyewitnesses are exposed to. A higher distortion is observed when misleading details are given to a larger extent than the little distortion in a case of less extent of misleading details in the post warning.
In Loftus E. (2017) the major proponents of human memory are the details that one is given in a speech. The presentation, (emotion, non-verbal cues) of a speech determine the details that the audience will remember based on the varied emphasis on different aspects of the speech by a speaker. The argument is that misleading information given by a speaker may to some extent distort the memories of some listeners.
In Dodimead et al.’s (2015) a study on how children memories is influenced by the interviewer’s gestures is evaluated. The children were, in a test, made to watch a video after which they were interrogated. Misleading gestures by the interviewer led the children to giving distorted information by using the wrong non-verbal cues. An interviewer would for example ask a child about the dressing of a particular character in the video and simultaneously perform a gestute (of a hat for example) and the children ended up giving wrong information.
In Hickman G. (2017) the article evaluates how wording of questions influences the answers given by an eyewitness. The study was carried out on youths with an average age of 19.2 years. In a video involving a car accident for example, the words “the cars smashed” and “the cars came into with each other” led to different responses on the same video. The wording of interview triggers false memories at times
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