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Lecture 20 - Social Psychology in the Court

by: Leslie Ogu

Lecture 20 - Social Psychology in the Court PSYC 2012

Marketplace > George Washington University > Psychlogy > PSYC 2012 > Lecture 20 Social Psychology in the Court
Leslie Ogu
GPA 3.01

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About this Document

We take a different approach in this class where we are less focused on the textbook and more centered around how social psychology applies in the real world. We start by talking about social psych...
Social Psychology
Stock, M
Class Notes
social psychology, courtroom, Biases, in-group, own-race, own-gender, inaccurate, assume, memory, reconstructive, retrieval, acquisition, storage, belief, juror, Judge, police, suspect, disguise, effects, impairs, source monitoring, misleading questions
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Leslie Ogu on Thursday April 14, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSYC 2012 at George Washington University taught by Stock, M in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 12 views. For similar materials see Social Psychology in Psychlogy at George Washington University.


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Date Created: 04/14/16
Leslie Ogu PSYC 2012  04/13/2016 ­ Social Psychology in the Court    Eyewitness Testimony  ➢ 3 Stages of Memory  ○ Acquisition  ○ Storage  ○ Retrieval  ➢ Line­up Procedures  ○ Construction  ○ Feedback  ○ Improvements based on research  ➢ Eyewitness testimony is persuasive  ➢ Considered by jurors to be the most influential evidence  ➢ The Innocence Project reports 330 cases in which DNA evidence exonerated  someone after being convicted of a crime  ○ In 72% of these cases, the conviction was based on faulty  eyewitness identification **  ➢ How accurate are eyewitnesses?  ➢ Memory is based on acquisition, storage and retrieval  ○ Error can occur at any of these stages  ■ Retrieval (what people recall at a later time):  ● “Best guess” problem in lineup identification  ● Negative effects of verbalization    Eyewitness Effects: Acquisition  ➢ Acquisition:  ​noticing and “taking in” information  ➢ What impacts memory at this stage:  ○ Poor viewing conditions  ○ People see what they expect to see  ○ Focus on weapons  ○ Own­race bias  ○ Change blindness  ○ Cognitive biases  ➢ Poor Viewing Conditions  ○ The accuracy of eyewitness identification depends on the viewing  conditions at the time the crime was committed  ○ However, most jurors believe that witnesses can correctly identify the  criminal even when viewing conditions are poor  ➢ Viewing Conditions  ○ Duration  ■ Shorter events associated with less accuracy  ■ Retrieval: time until recall  ○ Visibility  ■ Poor lighting and obscured view  ■ Disguises  ○ Viewing distance  ○ Substance use  ○ Witnesses are generally unreliable in estimating these things  ➢ Weapons focus effect:​  the presence of a weapon draws attention and impairs a  witness’s ability to identify a culprit  ○ Identification less likely when culprit has a gun, razor blade, or knife  ➢ Own­Race Bias:​  people are better at identifying members of their own race  ○ More errors when participant / criminal are of different race  ○ People usually have less experience with features that characterize  individuals of other races  ■ Contact hypothesis  ■ Individuating versus distinguishing features  ○ Also, own­age  ​and own­gender​  biases    Eyewitness Effects: Storage  ➢ What people store in memory  ➢ Memories fade with time  ➢ People can have inaccurate recall about what they saw  1. Reconstructive Memory:​  the process whereby memories of an event become  distorted by information encountered after the event occurred  2. Source Monitoring:​  the process whereby people try to identify the source of  their memories  ○ People can get mixed up about where they heard or saw something  ➢ Misleading questions can change people’s minds and make it hard to  discriminate between memories for real and suggested events  ○ How fast a car was going  ○ Whether broken glass was at the scene of the incident  ○ The number of demonstrators at an event  ○ If the car was in front of a stop or yield sign  ➢ Police and lawyer questioning, media reports, and peer conversations, can all  impact storage and recall  ➢ The Effects of Suggestion on “False” Memories  ○ Memory is reconstructive **  ○ Sometimes we “remember” things that never actually happened  ■ And for these “false memories” we may be as confident in them as  we are with actual memories  ■ We are surprisingly unaware of how unreliable our memory can be  and overly confident in the accuracy of our memories    Eyewitness Effects: Retrieval  ➢ Retrieval:​  what people recall at a later time  ➢ Instruction Bias:​  wording of instructions to witnesses can drastically affect  responses to lineups  ○ Should indicate to the witness that the criminal may not be in the lineup  ➢ Lineup Construction Bias:​  anything that makes the suspect stand out from a  lineup biases the lineup against the suspect  ○ E.g., the foils do not look like the suspect, the foils are dressed differently  than the suspect, a different coloring / lighting of the suspect’s photo, etc.  ➢ Responding Quickly  ○ Confidence ​ isn’ a good predictor of accuracy **  ○ Faster response tend to be more accurate  ■ “His face just ‘popped out’ at me”  ○ Inaccurate witnesses  ■ Use process of elimination  ■ Deliberately compare one face to another  ■ Select person who most closely resembles the perpetrator ​ relative  to the other members of the lineup  ➢ Simultaneous v. Sequential Lineups  ○ Simultaneous lineups:​  pictures are shown at the same time  ■ This encourages the witness to make comparison between the  pictures(relative judgements)  ○ Sequential lineups:  ​pictures are shown one at a time  ■ This does not allow the witness to compare pictures to each other  ■ The witness must compare each picture to his/her memory  (absolute judgements)  ➢ Post­Identification Feedback  ○ Research Example (Wells & Bradfield, 1998)  ■ Confirming feedback:  ● “Good, you identified the actual suspect in the case”  ■ Disconfirming feedback:  ● “Oh. You identified number ___. The actual suspect was  number ___.”    Improving Eyewitness Identification  ➢ Fillers should resemble description of suspect  ➢ Conduct interview at a slow pace with open­ended questions and no leading  statements  ○ Neutral investigator **  ➢ Lineup Instructions  ○ Told suspect may not be there  ➢ Don’t count on witnesses knowing whether their selections were biased   ○ Sequential lineup 


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