Leading Questions and Eyewitness Testimony Essay

1655 WordsAug 24, 20147 Pages
LEADING QUESTIONS AND EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY1 An experiment exploring leading questions and their effect on the reliability of eyewitness testimony. LEADING QUESTIONS AND EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY2 Abstract Accurate memory recollection is vital in eyewitness testimony. The aim was to determine whether leading questions can alter the reliability of the testimony as a replication of Loftus and Palmer's 1974 experiment. Participants saw a video of a car crash and one group were asked “How fast were the cars going when they hit each other?” while the other was asked “How fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?”. It was predicted that the word 'smashed' would produce a higher mean speed estimate. Participants were asked a week later if they had seen broken glass in the video. Again, it was predicted that the 'smashed' group would be more likely to answer 'Yes'. As hypothesised, the 'smashed' group estimated a faster mean speed. Contrary to the hypothesis, this same pattern was not observed in the broken glass question. LEADING QUESTIONS AND EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY3 An experiment exploring leading questions and their effect on the reliability of eyewitness testimony. “There are some things one remembers even though they may never have happened.” Harold Pinter. Some of the first research reports regarding memory (e.g Bartlett, 1932) show that our memories may not be a reliable and exact recollection of our actions and that we can modify memories as well as making and believing false memories. This theory is supported by the work of Lyle and Johnson (2006). False account recollection and leading questions were also studied by Crombag, Wagenaar and van Koppen (1996). 10 months after an aeroplane crash had been highly-publicised, participants were asked “Did you see the television film of the moment the plane hit the apartment

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