Eye Witness Essay

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This essay will describe and evaluate the research carried out by Loftus into eye witness testimonies, and further assess the implications of the findings made within the research. Loftus and Palmer (1974) made a study which set out to investigate how information provided to a witness after an incident would influence their recollection of it, dependant on the way the way the person asking used different techniques e.g. leading questions. Two laboratory experiments were carried out the first of which they used 45 students, and showed them a video of a simulated car crash. Participants were split into 5 groups consisting of 9 people each and were asked a series of questions. The verbs used to describe the collision varied; smashed, collided, bumped, hit and contacted and was changed for each group. The results of the experiment showed that other verbs caused participants to judge the car to have been travelling at a higher speed for example, ‘contacted’ caused them to say the car was relatively slow, whereas ‘smashed’ caused participants to judge the car to have been travelling faster. This showed that depending on how the question was phrased the speed estimates were influenced. The second experiment used 150 student participants and similarly showed them a film, this film although was a multi vehicle accident. Participants were split into 3 groups In a second experiment Loftus and Palmer used one hundred and fifty student participants and again showed them a film, this was of a multi vehicle car accident and this time the participants were split in to three groups, the first group was asked ‘how fast were the cars going when they hit each other?’ the second group was asked: ‘how fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?’ and the third group wasn’t asked anything. A week later the participants were called back and asked if they saw any broken
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