Memory That Influences The Strength Of Eye Witness Testimonies

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There are many misconceptions about memory that influences the strength of eye witness testimonies in court cases. Law enforcement officers, judges, and the general public believe that human memory works like a video camera so everything people remember must be true and accurate. If the person recalling the memory has high confidence in the accuracy of the memory, even if it were an adult recalling a childhood event, the memory is more likely to be believed as true. However, memory must be encoded and retrieved. During the retrieval process, there are factors that may influence the accuracy of the memory that is actually remembered. This causes problems in the legal system when an innocent person is falsely accused and punished solely on witness testimonials. Lacy and Stark (2013) discuss some of the common misconceptions people have about memory and explain how memory can be distorted as well as some of the neural mechanisms that occur behind memory distortion. In contrast to most of the expert opinions, judges and jurors usually believe that what the witness remembers is true especially if they are confident in the truth of the memory. Experts believe otherwise. Over time, memory consolidates during sleep and becomes hippocampal independent. Retrieving a memory causes a need for the memory to be reconsolidated. During this time, the memory can be distorted through misinformation or with the passage of time. For example, in Loftus and Palmer’s experiment, the memory of how fast the car was going was influenced by the wording of the question; “smashed” made people believe the cars were going much faster than “hit”. Although law enforcement officers do not intend to change a witness’ memory or implant a false memory, their action... ... middle of paper ... ...ersial, it is known that neurogenesis inhibition causes poorer memory consolidation. Although I find it shocking that the majority of people believe so much in the truth and accuracy of someone’s memory that they are willing to convict someone based on it, I do understand that it is hard to consider how much your memory can change without your notice. However, I agree with the two articles that the judge and jurors should be educated about how memory can be distorted so that they do not take a witness’ testimony as true fact. I believe that both articles were strong in proving their points because they use experiments that were designed to test memory as proof that the misconceptions are wrong. That is not to say that all memory is completely false and witness testimonials should be thrown out but that there should additional evidence when used to convict someone.

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