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Eyewitness Memory Essay

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Snyman, 1
Running Head: Eyewitness Memory
Eyewitness Memory
Unit 2 Paper
Marilee Snyman
Raritan Valley Community College

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Snyman, 2
Eyewitness Memory
The unreliability of eyewitness memory is one of the main reasons innocent people get
wrongfully convicted. Eyewitness memory is a recollection of a person’s memories of a certain
event, usually a crime, which that person has witnessed. It is linked to an eyewitness testimony, a
verbal description of what happened during an incident, used against a person with criminal
charges in court during a trial. During an eyewitness testimony, jurors pay close attention to
what is being said, because they consider it to be a reliable source of evidence. However, the
reliability of eyewitness memory has been questioned by multiple forensics and psychologists.
The stages of eyewitness memory or testimony is witnessing the incident, the waiting
period before officially giving the evidence and then finally giving the evidence. During this
period, multiple factors can influence the reliability of an eyewitness’ memory. Eyewitness
memory is usually studied under the category of cognitive processes. Cognitive processes is the
mental processes, like thought and memory, about how we consciously and unconsciously make
sense of the world around us. (Salazar, 2019). This process differs from individual to individual,
and it is never 100% accurate (Loftus, 2013). Huff, Rattner and Sagarin stated in their book,
Convicted But Innocent: Wrongful Conviction and Public Policy, that the result of unreliable
memory is one of the main factors that innocent people get wrongfully convicted. Even though
99.5% of eyewitness testimonies are reliable, each year, there are approximately 10,000 people
getting convicted for serious index crimes (Huff, Rattner, Sagarin, 1996).
So what makes eyewitness testimonies unreliable? There are multiple factors that affect
the witness’ memories. Some of the main factors include: the age of the witness, reconstructive
memory, focus on weapons, lineup manipulations and false memories (Loftus, 1980). Younger
witnesses, as well as elderly witnesses, are more vulnerable to the suggestibility theory.

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Snyman, 1 Running Head: Eyewitness Memory Eyewitness Memory Unit 2 Paper Marilee Snyman Raritan Valley Community College Snyman, 2 Eyewitness Memory The unreliability of eyewitness memory is one of the main reasons innocent people get wrongfully convicted. Eyewitness memory is a recollection of a person’s memories of a certain event, usually a crime, which that person has witnessed. It is linked to an eyewitness testimony, a verbal description of what happened during an incident, used against a person with criminal charges in court during a trial. During an eyewitness testimony, jurors pay close attention to what is being said, because they consider it to be a reliable source of evidence. However, the reliability of eyewitness memory has been questioned by multiple forensics and psychologists. The stages of eyewitness memory or testimony is witnessing the incident, the waiting period before officially giving the evidence and then finally giving the evidence. During this period, multiple factors can influence the reliability of an eyewitness’ memory. Eyewitness memory is usually studied under the category of cognitive processes. Cognitive processes is the mental processes, like thought and memory, about how we consciously and unconsciously make sense of the world around us. (Salazar, 2019). This process differs from individual to individual, and it is never 100% accurate (Loftus, 2013). Huff, Rattner and Sagarin stated in their book, Convicted But Innocent: Wrongful C ...
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