We look at eye witness testimony in the first year looking at Loftus and Palmer and investigate the reliability of witnesses and what can effect witness recall in the Crime module of the second year. Many studies have investigated the reliability of children as witnesses and this is even a sub-topic in the course; however, one issue that isn’t usually center stage is the reliability of older people when witnessing crimes.
In a recent University of Virginia press release (Dodson & Krueger 2006) it was suggested that:
“A University of Virginia study suggests that older adults are not only more inclined than younger adults to make errors in recollecting details that have been suggested to them, but are also more likely than younger people to have a very high level of confidence in their recollections, even when wrong. The finding has implications regarding the reliability of older personsâ€™ eyewitness testimonies in courtrooms.”
Many factors that effect accurate recall have been extensively studied such as weapon focus, arousal, and the methods used to prompt, however age of the witness needs to be carefully considered when deciding on the reliability of testimony. We need to make sure that our attention isn’t fixated at the other end of the chronological spectrum looking at children as witnesses.
Dodson, C. S., & Krueger, L. E. (2006). I misremember it well: Why older adults are unreliable eyewitnesses. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 13, 770-775.