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False memory refers to an individual's hazy remembrance of events that occurred at a specific time. It could be due to missing components of the scene or misinterpreting the circumstances of the crime, which affects what one records in their brain (Block et al., 2012). Prior knowledge may alter how one perceives events because they already have an expectation of how things should unfold. People frequently doubt their capacity to recall all of the specifics of an event and are vulnerable to providing information that could accuse an innocent person or lead to the release of a guilty person. It is critical to understand the extent of false memory to avoid such negative implications.
Summary of articles
Article 1: Teaching About Repressed Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse and Eyewitness Testimony
The article discusses that humans have the ability to repress memories relating to sexual abuse when they were children. The objective is to educate readers is to enable readers to understand memory repression and the role it plays in sexual abuse and eyewitness testimony. The focus of the article was an understanding of the ability of the memory to remember, the operations of the mind, causes of forgetting and the impact of omitting some elements of information. Study materials were provided in the study through trainers, videos and class discussions (Miller, 1997).
The beginning of the study sees the students viewing the memory like a tape recorder that can replay events accurately. However, through the study, they discovered that the memory crumbles and began questioning the accuracy of details given by witnesses. Factors influencing memory and testimony given included the questioning techniques applied such as lineups for suspects. The article highlights the need to listening to both parties in judgment to avoid bias (Miller, 1997).
Article 2: ‘Mind the Gap’: False Memories for Missing Aspects of an Event
The author opens the article with an indication that misleading suggestions lead to witnesses to giving false information. The goal of the reading is to look into whether people would give false memory if they were not given tips (Gerrie, Belcher, & Garry, 2006). Description of events leads to the arousal of thoughts that could lead to individuals confidently providing information that may be false.
Tests were used in the study where different videos were given, and people are given a duration of 24 hours to return and give a recollection of the videos. The same videos were presented with distortions to test the ability to remember. Results of the study indicate that forty of the forty-four subjects recognized at least one video falsely. The responses given were done in confidence. A key finding is that crucial information was lost if the witnesses were unsure of the events. The study concludes that people give false testimony even without suggestions. The study recommends the importance of identifying essential items in an event as they can guide in establishing whether testimony could be true or false (Gerrie, Belcher, & Garry, 2006).
Article 3: Can Fabricated Evidence Induce False Eyewitness Testimony?
The study looks into the possibility of people testifying for events that they never witnessed. The research shows that people have the capability to give evidence to events they did not see through viewing videos of an event that distorts their way of thinking.
The study uses experiments on 60 university students in different situations. Information was given to the witnesses, and a cash prize was promised to them. They were required to fill a test under which they were recorded on video. The second phase of the experiment entailed telling the subjects that money had been lost from the bank and their partners were suspects. Though there was video recording, it was insufficient and required testimony from witnesses. The study results indicate that people have the capability to hold distorted information based on their past experiences. People also have the ability to sign for false witness information especially when they believe that the person accused will be subjected to punishment (Wade, Green, & Nash, 2010).
Summary and Conclusion
The studies are an indication that the memory could be distorted based on the events, suggestions and the introduction of false information. People could go to the extent of testifying on events they did not experience. The memory needs a little motivation, and it could result in witnesses implicating individuals to events that they are unsure. It is critical to listen and critically understand the witness and the accused before making the final judgment. It will entail the jury to understand the crucial and non-crucial information that influences the information given in a ruling.
Implications of the study
The study aims to understand the ability of false memory inducing false eyewitness testimony. It is evident from the studies that the memory can forget or distort information even for witnesses. It implies that people could be wrongly implicated in court cases for major cases such as sexual abuse. There is a need to continually study human behavior in a bid to understand actual situations as opposed to control experiments where results may not be accurate. The methods used in interviewing witnesses need to be assessed to avoid creating a bias in the mind of the witness and thereby giving false testimony.
Block, S., Shestowsky, D., Segovia, D., Goodman, G., Schaaf, J., & Alexander, K. (2012). “That never happened”: Adults' discernment of children's true and false memory reports. Law and Human Behavior, 36(5), 365-374. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0093920
Gerrie, M., Belcher, L., & Garry, M. (2006). ‘Mind the gap’: false memories for missing aspects of an event. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 20(5), 689-696. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/acp.1221
Miller, L. (1997). Teachings about repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse and eyewitness testimony. Teaching Of Psychology, 24(4), 250-255. http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15328023top2404_4
Wade, K., Green, S., & Nash, R. (2010). Can fabricated evidence induce false eyewitness testimony?. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24(7), 899-908. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/acp.1607
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