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A Case of Mistaken Memory?

The Psychology of Eyewitness Memory



Author:

Karen Chambers
Department of Psychology & Communicative Disorders
Saint Mary’s College
kchambers@saintmarys.edu

Abstract:

This case explores the fundamental principles of memory, eyewitness accuracy, and police questioning techniques in witness identification in a criminal case. By studying the details of an actual series of attacks and the subsequent police investigation, students learn that memory is a reconstructive process rather than an accurate recording of events. The case has been used in an undergraduate introductory psychology course and in a course on psychology and the law. It could also be used in a cognitive psychology course.

Objectives:
  • Demonstrate that memory is a reconstructive process rather than an accurate recording of events.
Keywords: Memory; eyewitness; witness identification; suggestive questioning; misattribution of source; lineup bias
Topical Area: Legal issues, Social issues
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Discussion
Language: English
Subject Headings: Psychology   Forensic Science  
Date Posted: 05/09/01
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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