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Loftus & Palmer (1974)

Influencing eye witness testimony
by

Dod Agnew

on 18 February 2011

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Transcript of Loftus & Palmer (1974)

EYE WITNESS
TESTIMONY
THE ACCURACY OF MEMORY FOLLOWING AN ACCIDENT, CRIME, OR OTHER SIGNIFICANT EVENT, AND THE TYPES OF ERRORS THAT ARE COMMONLY MADE IN SUCH SITUATIONS
Loftus & Palmer
(1974)
To investigate how information provided to a witness after an event will influence their memory of that event
AIM
Independent Measures
IV - Verb used
DV - The estimate of speed
45
shown
video
clip
‘About how fast were the cars going when they ________ each other’
smashed
collided
contacted
bumped
hit
2 EXPLANATIONS FOR THE RESULTS:


Response Bias: The different speed estimates occurred because the critical word (e.g. ‘smashed’ or ‘hit’) influences or biases a person’s response.

Memory is altered: The critical word changes a person’s memory so they actually ‘see’ the accident differently, i.e. more or less severe.
In order to prove this second point,
Loftus & Palmer tested this in their
second experiment
Would people remember details
that aren’t true?
150
shown
video
clip
Group One
‘How fast were the cars going when they hit each other?’
Group Two
‘How fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?’
Group Three
Not asked about the speed of the cars
One week later, all participants returned and were asked:
‘Did you see any broken glass?’
There was no broken glass in the film.
What do these results show?
The verb used in the original question influenced whether the participants thought they had seen broken glass.
Therefore the way a question is asked can influence the answer given.
Recall was not due to a response bias because everyone was asked the same question about broken glass. It implies that the leading question had altered their memory of the event.
CONCLUSION
A person's memory of an event is made up of 2 kinds of information
1/. The individual's own perception
2/. Information supplied after the event

STRENGTH
1/. Controlled experiment
2/. Shows what might happen in court when eye witness testimony is used

WEAKNESSES
Limited ecological validity
Demand characteristics
Some found it upsetting
Students
Full transcript