The Effect of Hypnosis on Eyewitness Testimony

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The Effect of Hypnosis on Eyewitness Testimony

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Under hypnosis an eyewitness could produce false information whist

giving a statement to the police. This is because one of the

characteristic of being hypnotised is being sensitive to suggestion.

Therefore the witness can give suggestive information through leading

question (even if this isn't intended). It could lead to an alteration

of the existing true memory. Although hypnosis might produce increased

recall, it also produces more error; quantity doesn't always mean

quality in this case. Through hypnosis it is easy for the interrogator

to implant false information into the mind of the eyewitness. In this

way again memory can be distorted. In the study by Hilgard (1965), you

can clearly see how suggestions of negative visual hallucination and

others can distort the participants' recall. Therefore the effect of

hypnosis on eyewitness testimony is indeed a big effect and should be

used with caution.

Study: Yuille and McEwan 1985

Aim: to find out more about the belief that hypnosis doesn't improve

recall and the use of too many leading questions during interviews.

Method: participants were tested to see how affected they were by

hypnosis, those who were found to be 'medium to highly susceptible'

were shown a film of a bank robbery. They were then split into 3

groups - hypnosis group, relaxation group and waking group.

Participants were asked to come back a week later and were

individually interviewed by being asked to use either the guiding

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