Eyewitness Error Essay

Eyewitness Error Essay

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Memory is a cognitive function of the brain that is often taken for granted. Memory may have many purposes, but most importantly it is essentially a record of an entire life span. From this perspective memory is the most important aspect of consciousness. Unfortunately, through formal experimentation it has been shown that memory is fairly inaccurate, inconsistent, and often influenced by our own experiences as well as the bias of others. Memory is not only affected during an observed event, but there are instances where memory can be influenced after an event as well. There are also instances where memory can be affected retroactively due to personal experiences and biases. Incorrectly recalling the memories of one’s life is usually not detrimental, but the flawed nature of long-term and short-term memory functions becomes a serious matter in regards to criminal eyewitness testimony. In the justice system eyewitness reports are legitimate and can be crucial in the judging process. The justice system was constructed to rely on testimony that is often inaccurate and inconstant in many ways.
The manner in which memories are constructed lends itself to errors. According to the constructive approach to memory, what people remember is not only based on what actually happened, but also include other factors such as previous knowledge, experiences, and expectations (Goldstein, 2011, p. 249). This is troubling due to the fact that eyewitness testimony is the foundation of most criminal trials. The case of Mark Diaz Bravo is an example of how false testimony can not only destroy an individual’s life, but how eyewitness error can lead to the wrongfully convicted being falsely imprisoned. Mr. Bravo was accused of raping a psychiatric patie...


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...d on eyewitness error. Although the amount of error in eyewitness memory is currently being debated, the fact that there is error at all should be taken more seriously by the justice system.











References
Goldstein, E.B. (2011). Cognitive psychology: connecting mind, research and everyday experience. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

No Author. (2004). Innocense lost – not guilty afterall. The Sanfrancisco Magazine. Retreived May 19th, 2011 from www.sanfranmag.com

Hudson, J.A. (1990). “Constructive processing in childrens event memory.” Developmental Psychology, 26(2), 180-187. Doi:10.1037/00120-1649.26.2.180

Loftus, E. F., Miller, D. G., & Burns, H. J. (1978). Semantic integration of verbal information into a visual memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 4(1), 19-31. doi:10.1037/0278-7393.4.1.19

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