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13 Seiten, Note: 2.0
Recommendations to Lawyer
Co-witness discussion -critical view and recommendation to a lawyer about affection on memory accuracy Through different studies “memory conformity” could be investigated as a phenomenon, in which memories of participants were distorted after confederates provided misinformation and thereby influenced the participant’s memories. These studies will be evaluated critically and recommendations will be provided to a lawyer on how he should value the accuracy of witnesses after they were in discussions with co-witnesses. Furthermore the study of Paterson, Kemp and Forgas (2009) will be taken into consideration to take a critical view of the constituted phenomenon called “memory conformity”. The study not only included tests with confederates giving misleading information, but also a comparison were made between a group discussing the scene and the effects of testimonies after not having interacted with other participants at all.
It was confirmed that there are influences on memory, if the discussions about an event include misleading information, which deteriorate the accuracy of memory. But it is mentioned in the discussion section that most of the studies, which identified these negative consequences through co-witness discussion, were exclusively based on confederates giving misleading information, which does not reflect reality. In addition it has arisen from the study of Paterson, Kemp and Forgas (2009) that in constellations in which discussions took place without confederates no effects on the memory accuracy could be detected in comparison to the group without any discussions. With regards to this it would be wrong to conclude that discussions between witnesses inevitably entail negatives consequences on their credibility.
Co-witness discussion -critical view and recommendation to a lawyer about affection on accuracy of testimony
In many circumstances, court proceedings will involve the testimonies given by witnesses (eye witnesses) who provide the court with facts they observed from the scene.
This raises the legal question for the court and lawyers how to value the testimonies within a case in which two witnesses admitted that they had discussed details of the incident immediately after it occurred. The objective of this work is to critically evaluate the psychological studies about “memory conformity” and recommendation will then be given to a lawyer who seeks to understand the memory conformity, and may guide him or her on how to handle witnesses who admit having discussed the event after it occurred and before appearing in court. In this paper, there is presented an extensive literature review about memory conformity and an assessment of how it will affect the validity of the witnesses' evidence presented in the courts. This paper will concentrate on recent studies and also the development of the topic in the recent years. In this paper, there is presented an extensive literature review about memory conformity and an assessment of how it will affect the validity of the witnesses' evidence presented in courts.
This section systematically presents the literature available pertaining to memory conformity. The various studies that have been conducted on the topic will be presented, including the research methods, designs, and the research findings. These will help in evaluating the intensity of the matter- that is, the witness discussion, and how it might influence the lawyers' perception of the witnesses.
Memory conformity has been defined as the situation where the memories of a witness influence the memory of another witness about the same case, report, or event. This often is caused by the interference that occurs when the individual witnesses discuss amongst themselves about the details of the event as they have experienced them. As mentioned above, memory conformity has significant consequences that have both social and legal implications. According to Gabbert, Memon, Allan and Wright (2007), people have a tendency to report what they have encountered after the occurrence of the event and not the initial experience they encountered. They have called this errant post-even information that causes serious witness error.
These authors have also indicated that an obvious way in real life that the witnesses can come across post-event information is by interacting- face to face, during conversations. During the conversations, these authors have indicated that people share their memories amongst themselves. In their study adults were exposed to misinformation given through discussion about the event with a confederate. As a result participants were less accurate than controls on questionnaire items after encountering misinformation. (Gabbert, Memon, Allan, & Wright, 2007). A previous study by Gabbert, Memon, and Allan (2003) did establish that there is a significant memory distortion that arises when the witnesses of the same event are given room to discuss before the memory testing. Though their current study focuses on whether a discussion will result in greater misinformation than in non-social encounter, the literature therein greatly supports the idea that discussions will result in memory conformity.
Roediger, Meade, and Bergman (2011) conducted a study of how social influences arouse false memories. Their study is founded on various previous studies that suggested that the group response was different from the individual report- that is, reports after discussions are different than the reports before discussions. These authors have proposed that remembering is often a process that occurs within a person, but it also occurs in social forums. For that reason, the memory’s social aspects need to be given adequate consideration in the study of memory elements. Their study involved a group of people requested to make public responses one at a time, and then allowing for misinformation given by a confederate to take place, and then presentation made later. The outcome of the study indicated that social contagion of memory indeed took place. More so, the study also led to the observation that social contagion of memory was greater when the items to be observed were presented at a faster rate than when they were presented at a slower rate. As such, the authors established that the memory of a person can be affected by another person’s misinformation, which is called social contagion of memory.
Mori and Kishikawa (2014) conducted a study on a group of students who were presented in pairs with a simulated criminal event and were then required to give their reports. The witness pairs watched the same video together but with different auditory versions, four different items and none of them were conscious of the discrepancies. By the end of the presentation, the participants were made to debate six items that included two critical items that were presented to them differently. Four of the items presented were common. The memory performance of the witnesses was assessed individually using administering questionnaires prior to the discussions, after discussion, and a week after. The outcome of this study was that the memories conformed to co-witnesses on the discussed items and rarely on the not-discussed items. The authors have also given recommendations that the forensic practitioners ought not to allow for the witnesses to discuss the event before they make their presentations.
This study is also founded on previous studies like that by Skagerberg and Wright (2008). The studies showed that approximately 58 % of the court witnesses tended to hold discussions after the event and before presentation at the court, demonstrating that it was really difficult to prevent the witnesses from discussing the details of an event.
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