Although you may think you remember events exactly how they happened, other experiences and questions about the events influence what you remember. Rarely do you have verbatim memories of events. Therefore, you encounter memory distortion.
In the light of what you have learned about the malleability of , do you think the use of eyewitnesses is appropriate in a court case?
Elizabeth Loftus is a leading authority on eyewitness memory and repressed memories. Using the keywords “eyewitness memory and repressed memories by Elizabeth Loftus,” search the Internet for interesting articles concerning this science
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Memory Distortion in the Courtroom
Let’s look at a perfect example of memory distortion—eyewitness testimony. Courts place great emphasis on eyewitness testimony, but eyewitness recollection can be quite distorted. Eyewitnesses do not intentionally lie, but they really believe what they are reporting is accurate. Distortions occur due to a variety of reasons, including suggestibility and bias. The way a prosecutor asks a witness questions can influence the witness’s report of events (for example, “When did the green car hit the blue car?” versus “When did the green car smash into the blue car?”). People have their own biases and prejudices that can affect how they remember events, but bias can also be introduced by questioning. shows that children are especially susceptible to distortions of memory, but the court system still allows the testimony of children in the courtroom. False memories from children have far-reaching implications in concerning child abuse. In some instances, people wrongly convicted of child abuse have later been found not guilty due to the now-grown children saying the events never occurred, while in others, people who were guilty but were absolved on the ground of lack of evidence were brought back to courtrooms because of the now-grown children discovering repressed memories of abuse.