Psychology Opinion Discussions Eyewitness Testimony & Faulty Memory Read each paragraph give me your opinion if you agree or disagree with the paragraph
When it comes to eyewitness testimony, I do not think that people should be sent to prison solely based in witnesses. Everyone’s memories are different along with the retention span. Not everyone remembers things the same and if someone is asked to recall what they witnessed, say after a horrific crime they may not be able to. Then the information won’t be accurate, therefore, the guilty or innocent verdict may not e correct.
When it comes to Eyewitness Testimony, there are several pros that are associated. Eyewitness testimony can at many times have a significant influence on what the jury’s decision may turn out to be. “Extreme emotions can arouse, and the way the eyewitness recalls their memory can be a basis for determining the witness’s credibility.” (Lombardo.,2017, January 15). It gives the jury, along with the judge and anyone else attending court to hear direct testimony from witness involved in the case. The jury can link the emotions of testimony with what may have happened. Eyewitness testimony can hep show a bigger picture of what happened. “It helps solve the mysteries and answers questions regarding cases and events.” (Lombardo.,2017, January 15). Finally, when it comes to court eyewitness testimony has and does serve as significant evidence. When eyewitness testimony can be gathered at a quick pace, and the memory s fresh it can be considered as convincing evidence. “At times, an eyewitness testimony is the only way to prove or disprove a defendant’s innocence.” (Lombardo.,2017, January 15). With pros comes cons. One main con when it comes to eyewitness testimony is the credibility of the witness. When a witness goes on the stand, they raise their hand and promise to tell the truth, but there us really no way to make sure the truth is told. A person’s memory can be questioned. Many times, when a horrific or stressful event has happened, our memories on recalling what happened may be inaccurate., Fear, anxiety can cause dishonesty. “Study shows that when false facts are introduced to a person’s memory, that person tend to have difficulty recalling what actually happened and may even recall false or corrupted memories and believe them to be true.” (Lombardo.,2017, January 15). Not all witness can be credible and there are not many ways to help prove their validity. When it comes to fear, anxiety or just wanted to repress memories, anyone can do it. No one is “immune” to forgetting things such as events and not remembering what has occurred.
This week’s discussion topic is one that I was able to incorporate in my Unit 4 assignment, false memories. False memories, and their presence in psychology, have been present in many high profile cases including those of serial killers like Ted Bundy. The question of how much, if any, weight should be placed in a conviction from eyewitness testimony the psychological perspective is fairly consistent. In a short answer no, a conviction based solely on eyewitness testimony should not be allowed.
“The knowledge that we cannot rely on our memories, however compelling they might be, leads to questions about the validity of criminal convictions that are based largely on the testimony of victims or witnesses. Our scientific understanding of memory should be used to help the legal system to navigate this minefield.” (Loftus, 2003)
Our memories are malleable, which is extremely relevant in a criminal case. Because the standard of guilt for a criminal conviction is beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt, a human memory does not meet that standard. Criminal trials tend to drag on for many months and in some cases years, especially when there are high profile circumstances. How can there be a reasonable expectation that any eyewitness would have maintained a perfect memory for such an extended period of time.
“Faulty memory is not just about picking the wrong person. Memory problems were also evident during the sniper attacks that killed ten people in the Washington DC area in 2002 Witnesses reported seeing a white truck or van fleeing several of the crime scenes. It seems that a white vehicle might have been near one of the first shootings and media repetition of this information contaminated the memories of witnesses to later attacks, making them more likely to remember white trucks. When caught, the sniper suspects were driving a blue car. Witnesses can be wrong for several reasons. A key reason is that they pick up information from other sources; they combine bits of memory from different experiences. A growing body of research shows that memory more closely resembles a synthesis of experiences than a replay of a videotape.” (Loftus, 2003)
Without more concrete evidence that is not malleable like a human memory, it is an injustice to convict someone to prison time.
During high school, I elected to take a Spanish class for all four years of attending. In this class, I always had a good grade and found that it was easy to remember the material in this class than other classes. The material was taught through playing games, singing silly songs, reciting vocabulary, and repeating tenses. The homework typically involved explaining what the words mean or writing a sentence with the word in it, drawing pictures of what the word is, and writing synonyms and antonyms for the word. After being out of high school for almost five years now, I still remember those songs we sang in class. Being properly fed, getting enough sleep, staying hydrated and staying healthy always helped me staying focus while taking a test and while studying for one. In my first college psychology class, my professor said that when studying and then taking a test it’s best to be in the same emotional state as it’s harder for the brain to recall that information in another emotional state since it’s linked to that information.
Through my own experience, I have realized that cramming for tests isn’t a good idea and it’s better to not study than cram as it makes me more nervous while taking a test if I cram the night before as I believe I should be able to recall the information better (although that isn’t the case). To ensure that I have learned what’s going to be on a test, I try being creative with what I’m needing to learn. For example, when studying for my Spanish test in high school I would color the vocabulary words in a certain color that makes me think about them. For example for the vocabulary word of “luchar” I would color it red as luchar means to fight and I would think of fights as red for blood from fighting. If I became stuck on two words that were similar or their meaning I would make a rhyme or song for them. For example, in my first year of Spanish classes in high school my teacher introduced us to a Spanish song for the question words to help us understand what word to use. When I would forget which question word to use on the test I would start singing the song in my head “que” is what, “cual” is which, “como “means how, “cuantos” means how many, “quien” means who (all have “accentos” or accents on them) (Ham, 2015). Psych Central Stafff (2018) explains that rhymes are easy to remember because of how they’re acoustically encoded by the brain.
Tying emotions into the studying material has also been effective in helping recall the information as Tyng, Amin, Saad, & Malik, (2017) state that emotional events are easier to recall than neutral events. McLeod (2013) suggests that the best way of accurately recalling information later is through semantic coding which means tying meaning to the things that a person wants to remember.
Any exam (for practice, a grade, or consideration into a program) that’s timed makes me nervous and I rush through the material knowing that I usually don’t have enough time to finish (I take my time reading to process and visually depict what’s being read when able to). Going into a test environment without any distractions on my mind helps me focus better on the test instead of whatever it may be that’s worrying me.
For me, my strengths and weaknesses in memory have been pretty uniform since I was a young child. Depending on the subject that I am studying would depend on the type of study technique. For me the two most used tools for me were mnemonic devices and elaborative rehearsal. If I was able to apply the historical dates or definitions of words to their meaning, it would make it easier for me to draw on the information at the time of the exam.
To test my memory I would use study guides that turned into mocked tests to allow me to check my answers. On exam day I was often afflicted with the test taking anxiety, however, I was still able to use the four types of memory retrieval to push through the exams. The four types of memory retrieval are recall, recollection, recognition and relearning. In the event I was able to retrieve the information, the common reason is retrieval failure.