Discuss the Role of Anxiety in the Accuracy

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The accuracy of eye witness testimony is affected by anxiety, according to the Yerkes Dodson law, which said that performance is related to arousal lever. At low levels of arousal, e.g. when you’re tired, performance is poor. As arousal increases, performance improves. However, if arousal increases further you become stressed which then makes your performance drop again. In the case of eye witness testimony, a witness of an anxiety provoking event would be expected to reduce their accuracy of recall. This is supported by Loftus 1979, who wanted to find out if anxiety during a witnessed incident affects the accuracy of later identification. The procedure used for this was exposing participants to one of two situations. They were then given 50 photos and asked to identify the person who had come out of the laboratory. The results led Loftus to conclude that witnesses concentrate more on weapons, which distracts attention from other things e.g. appearance. Loftus’ investigation was backed up by Loftus and Burns 1982, where they got participants to watch either a violent or non-violent short film of crime. The results showed that those who saw the violent version were less accurate in recalling information about the crime. This links back o Yerkes Dodson Law as it says that the more anxious you are, the less you are able to recall. The disadvantages of Loftus and Loftus and Burns are that they aren’t methodologically valid as it was a lab experiment and not a real life situation; also it wasn’t ethically valid as they were making people upset and deceiving people. Although there is research evidence to back up the Yerkes Dodson Law, there is also research evidence going against it. Yuille and Cutshall wanted to investigate eyewitness testimony in a real life setting. The method they used was interviewing 13 witnesses to a real life shooting involving the store
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