Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Did I See What I Think I Saw?

Date:
January 30, 2009
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Research increasingly suggests that eyewitness testimony may not be as accurate as we would like it to be. A new study examining how false information following a recall test affects volunteers' memories of a witnessed event suggests that recalled information is prone to distortion. These results suggest that the recall test may have improved subjects' ability to learn the false information -- that it enhanced learning of new and erroneous information.

Eyewitness testimony is a crucial part of many criminal trials even though research increasingly suggests that it may not be as accurate as we (and many lawyers) would like it to be. For example, if you witness a man in a blue sweater stealing something, then overhear people talking about a gray shirt, how likely are you to remember the real color of the thief's sweater?

Studies have shown that when people are told false information about an event, they become less likely to remember what actually happened - it is easy to mix up the real facts with fake ones. However, there is evidence that when people are forced to recall what they witnessed (shortly after the event), they are more likely to remember details of what really happened.

Psychologists Jason Chan of Iowa State University, Ayanna Thomas from Tufts University and John Bulevich from Rhode Island College wanted to see how providing false information following a recall test would affect volunteers' memories of an event that they witnessed. A group of volunteers watched the first episode of "24" and then either took an immediate recall test about the show or played a game. Next, all of the subjects were told false information about the episode they had seen and then took a final memory test about the show.

The results, reported in the January issue of Psychological Science, were surprising. The researchers found that the volunteers who took the test immediately after watching the show were almost twice as likely to recall false information compared to the volunteers who played the game following the episode.

The results of a follow-up experiment suggest that the first recall test may have improved subjects' ability to learn the false information - that is, the first test enhanced learning of new and erroneous information. These findings show that recently recalled information is prone to distortion. The authors conclude that "this study shows that even psychologists may have underestimated the malleability of eyewitness testimony."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Chan et al. Recalling a Witnessed Event Increases Eyewitness Suggestibility: The Reversed Testing Effect. Psychological Science, 2009; 20 (1): 66 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02245.x

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Did I See What I Think I Saw?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090128160835.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2009, January 30). Did I See What I Think I Saw?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090128160835.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Did I See What I Think I Saw?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090128160835.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

Newsy (Apr. 13, 2014) Researchers at the University of Michigan have designed an app to fight jet lag by adjusting your body's light intake. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Treatment Gaps Endangering Cops, Mentally Ill

Treatment Gaps Endangering Cops, Mentally Ill

AP (Apr. 10, 2014) As states slash funding for mental health services, police officers are interacting more than ever with people suffering from schizophrenia and other serious disorders of the mind. The consequences can be deadly. (April 10) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Teen Drinking Rates Linked To Alcohol Mentions In Pop Music

Teen Drinking Rates Linked To Alcohol Mentions In Pop Music

Newsy (Apr. 9, 2014) A University of Pittsburgh study found pop music that mentions alcohol is linked to higher drinking rates among teens. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins