The US legal system places a lot of importance on eyewitness memory.
Most people would report that they can accurately convey what they saw
in a particular situation. However, these ideas are not supported by
research. Instead, research shows that memory is quite malleable and is
affected by many factors. This research repeatedly demonstrates that
people do not remember exactly what they experienced. This module’s
experiment will show you firsthand how memory for events is not always
one hundred percent accurate.
Access the CogLab demonstration False Memory. Follow the instructions
to complete the demonstration to familiarize yourself with false
memory. Then locate at least one research study from a peer-reviewed
journal that examined how eyewitness memory can be affected by false
Based on your research, respond to the following situation:
You are considered to be an expert in false memories,
and a local district attorney has therefore requested your expertise on
the following case:
On Tuesday, March 6, 2007, a bank was robbed in Slidell,
LA. It was just after opening time, 9:04 a.m., and there were barely
any customers, when a car arrived and parked in the side parking lot of
the bank. Two men came out of the car and walked to the entrance. Both
wore dark clothing. Upon entering the bank, they held out guns and asked
for the manager. When the manager identified herself, the smaller of
the two robbers ordered her to open the safe. Meanwhile, the other
robber, a tall, and burley man, walked around holding his gun in his
outstretched arm, and threatening the remaining employees and customers.
The manager complied and the smaller robber collected all the money and
valuables from the safe. After five minutes, the big robber asked if
his companion was ready to go. When he was, the two ran back to their
car, and drove away.
The district attorney has asked that you create a
presentation about false memory and explain how it might influence this
case. He asks that you specifically address the following:
- Describe false memory and false memory experiments. Use the CogLab
experiment to illustrate false memory experiments, special distracters,
and normal distracters.
- Describe at least one research study from a peer-reviewed journal
that investigated how eyewitness memory can be affected by false
- Explain how false memory might influence this particular case. Use
specifics from the description of the case, the CogLab experiment, and
research to support your answer.
- Using evidence from the case, the CogLab experiment, and outside
research, justify why eyewitness testimonies should or should not carry
weight in criminal proceedings.
- Discuss any procedures which can increase or reduce the occurrence of false memories when reporting eyewitness events.
Remember, your presentation is designed to help the jury
understand false memory and how it might influence the eyewitness
testimony of this case. You will have ten minutes to present.
Since this is a legal case, you must include formally
written slide notes (proper grammar, proper paragraphs, APA formatting,
and academic tone) with research to support your claims. The
presentation will be a legal document in this case, so make it worthy of
being legally binding!
Develop an 5–6-slide presentation in PowerPoint format. Apply APA standards to citation of sources.
The Cog Lab 2.0 Cognitive Psychology False Memory Experiment was about the following
In this experiment a list of words was shown one at a time with each word presented for one and a half seconds. Then the response buttons were labeled with words from the list as well as with distractor words that were not on the list. You were asked to click on the buttons to identify which words were on the list.
The independent variable in this experiment was the type of word presented at test 1) on list 2) unrelated distractor and 3) related distractor. The dependent variable was the percentage of each type of item recalled.
People should recall the related distractors very often. The idea is that many of the words presented are related to the distractor, and most likely you thought about the distractor item as the words were being shown. At test you have a memory of thinking about the word but thought this was because it was presented rather than realizing you had just thought about the word. The effect is quite robust and perhaps most surprisingly it works very well even when subjects know what the experiment is about.
My experience of this false memory test was that at the beginning I struggled to recall so many words, then after about 2 sets I realized the words were related by a subject matter and realizing this and the subject matter made it easier to recall more of the words.
my results were: In original list 66.666664 percent of recalls
Normal distractor 2.0833333
Special distractor 33.333332