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The Psychology of Eyewitness Accounts The human memory while in many ways an amazing tool is highly flawed Although we have the power to remember a vast amount of information our mind can use our memory to essentially trick us sometimes even to the extent of remembering in detail events that never transpired Despite these limitations the testimony of eyewitnesses has become the most crucial evidence towards conviction in criminal cases Loftus 9 In this way our legal system depends on the reliability of an exceptionally faulty source Jurors in court cases tend to believe eyewitnesses Gorenststein 616 Faced with conflicting or ambiguous testimony they are tempted to put their faith in people who actually saw an event This faith in eyewitnesses maybe misplaced however Although eyewitness accounts are essential to courtroom testimony studies clearly show people who say I know what I saw often mean I know what I think I saw And these people may be wrong Migueles 259 Psychologists have attempted to measure the ability of witnesses to recall specific facts surrounding an emotional event as in the article Recall Recognition and Confidence Patterns in Eyewitness Testimony by Malen Migueles and Elvira Garcia-Bajos In other pertaining articles information processing is reviewed by stages from the time it is received to the time it is retrieved and all of the faults problems and decay information goes through before is it regenerated Essentially Migueles and Garcia-Bajos endeavored to find what type of stimuli Martin 2 witnesses will attend to during a crime Stimuli were broken down into two broad categories central and peripheral Central information coincides with and is both essential to and proximal to the crime while peripheral information is unrelated to the crime These categories are further divided into actions and details Migueles 257-60 The participants were divided into two groups intentional and incidental Both were shown the same film depicting a kidnapping and were given the same recognition tests
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