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Friday, March 11, 2016

Influencing The Witness

How Police Witnesses Could Be Misled by a Simple Wave of the Hand

The Conversation | March 9, 2016

How easy do you think it would be for someone to convince you that you’d seen something that never really happened? What about them doing this without actually saying anything misleading? That would almost be impossible, surely? Well, research into verbal and nonverbal influence suggests this can happen, and that we’re actually far more suggestible than we might like to think.
We know that people easily can be misled through words, and that changing the way we phrase a question can affect how somebody answers it. 

<more at; related links and articles: (Leading questions and the eyewitness report. Elizabeth F Loftus. Cognitive Psychology.
Volume 7, Issue 4, October 1975, Pages 560-572. doi:10.1016/0010-0285(75)90023-7. [Abstract: A total of 490 subjects, in four experiments, saw films of complex, fast-moving events, such as automobile accidents or classroom disruptions. The purpose of these experiments was to investigate how the wording of questions asked immediately after an event may influence responses to questions asked considerably later. It is shown that when the initial question contains either true presuppositions (e.g., it postulates the existence of an object that did exist in the scene) or false presuppositions (e.g., postulates the existence of an object that did not exist), the likelihood is increased that subjects will later report having seen the presupposed object. The results suggest that questions asked immediately after an event can introduce new—not necessarily correct—information, which is then added to the memorial representation of the event, thereby causing its reconstruction or alteration.]) and (The Formation of False Memories. Elizabeth F. Loftus and Jacqueline E. Pickrell. Psychiatric AnnalsDecember 1995 - Volume 25 · Issue 12: 720-725. doi: 10.3928/0048-5713-19951201-07. [Abstract: For most of this century, experimental psychologists have been interested in how and why memory fails. As Greene1 has aptly noted, memories do not exist in a vacuum. Rather, they continually disrupt each other through a mechanism that we call "interference." Virtually thousands of studies have documented how our memories can be disrupted by things that we experienced earlier (proactive interference) or things that we experienced later (retroactive interference). Relatively modern research on interference theory has focused primarily on retroactive interference effects. After receipt of new information that is misleading in some ways, people make errors when they report what they saw.2,3 The new post-event information often becomes incorporated into the recollection, supplementing or altering it, sometimes in dramatic ways. New information invades us, like a Trojan horse, precisely because we do not detect its influence. Understanding how we become tricked by revised data about a witnessed event is a central goal of this research. The paradigm for this research is simple. Participants first witness a complex event, such as a simulated violent crime or an automobile accident. Subsequently, half of the participants receive new misleading information about the event. The other half do not get any misinformation. Finally, all participants attempt to recall the original event. In a typical example of a study using this paradigm, participants saw a video depicting a killing in a crowded town square. They then received written information about the killing, but some people were misled about what they saw. A critical blue vehicle, for instance, was referred to as being white. When later asked about their memory for the color of the vehicle, those given the phony information tended to adopt it as their memory; they said the vehicle was white. In these and many other experiments, people who had not received the phony information had much more accurate memories. In some experiments, the deficits in memory performance following receipt of misinformation have been dramatic, with performance differences as large as 30% or 40%. This degree of distorted reporting has been found in scores of studies involving a wide variety of materials. People have recalled nonexistent broken glass and tape recorders, a cleanshaven man as having a mustache, straight hair as curly, stop signs as yield signs, hammers as screwdrivers, and even something as large and conspicuous as a barn in a bucolic scene that contained no buildings at all. In short, misleading post-event information can alter a person's recollection in powerful ways, even leading to the creation of false memories of objects that never in fact existed.])>

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