A great deal of controversy has surrounded the phenomenon of “false memory syndrome” and the implications that it has had in our society, particularly in the legal realm. One of the most influential psychologists in the area of memory and eye witness testimony is Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, who has spent three decades as a research psychologist and memory expert in legal cases. To learn more about the controversy surrounding “false memory syndrome,” visit the online LA Weekly website at
http://www.laweekly.com/2004-08-19/news/memory-and-manipulation/ to read the article, “Memory and Manipulation.”
Based on the points that the Loftus article brings up and your readings and research this week respond to the following:
What kind of implications do particular limitations of human memory have on the use of eye-witness testimony in criminal and civil court cases?
Instructions:Please respond to at least 3 other students. Responses should be a minimum of 150 words and include direct questions. Student (Williams)
I’m not surprised by the lack of confidence in eye witness testimony for a couple of reasons. 1. Being the lack of honesty in people. It’s obviously illegal to lie under oath but that don’t stop many who continuously commit perjury for various motives, most self gain or to help a loved one. 2. Your mind can be mis-guided, trauma, bad experience, or you just thought you saw what you wanted to see. It wasn’t a blue coat, but a red coat I saw. Eye witness testimony can be mis-led, mis-construed, or ill- informing. I was highly perturbed by the reading in “Memory and manipulation” by Elizabeth Loftus. I understand the disgust people had in her research regarding the Jane Doe case because it involved a child. However, I think its ground breaking that, footprints or messages can be implanted to the point where you believe the lie. The falsity becomes reality. The fact that this innocent human being actually believed she was sexually abused because the images were unassumingly constantly playing over and over in her head proves that you don’t see what you always see. I’ve had visuals of a memory that I believe was real, but was it a dream or was it reality? You read about many who saw an UFO or aliens. Are they crazy, saw what they actually saw, or just didn’t quite see it right? My daughter has dyslexia, one reason that we considered getting her tested for it was the fact that she would tell a story, but it would be erroneous of the facts. Some of the facts were there, but a lot of the information or details were not at all what happened. However, to her, the events took place exactly how she remembered them and you could not tell her different. So as exercises, I did and do ask her what happened in certain situations to ensure that she can properly recall events. I think this relates to our lesson that talks about the mind and biology. Besides the possible manipulation of the mind, their is also biological neurons that can affect the way you perceive and/or recall information.
Sasha Abramsky (19 August 2004) Memory and manipulation) Retrieved from http://www.laweekly.com/2004-08-19/news/memory-and
Hello Everyone! This weeks forum is on a very interesting topic, False Memory Syndrome. False memory syndrome is exactly what it sounds like. Memories are something that everyone can recall at some point whether it be an enjoyable memory of a good time in their life or a tragic memory from an event that has caused pain and or suffering. Memories can be from as recent as a few days or even go back in years or decades. Some people unfortunately also suffer from short and long term memory loss and that is what can tie into what we are specifically discussing this week. Certain instances may not be so vivid to individuals but all it takes is something that you believe occurred and from there a false memory can build into something that never happened but you built such a believable story in your head that you now believe it to be true. When it comes to testimonies in criminal and civil court cases there is a very very fine line in my opinion. Cases that are simply looking for the good guy and the bad guy can easily be persuaded by certain character testimonies. Now days a lot of trials require a lot of sufficient evidence or DNA type proof for someone to be convicted. Unfortunately, even without that solid evidence people can also be convicted by a believable testimony that was built off of lies or beliefs implanted by influencers such as therapist, doctors, and adult figures. I would love for us to be at a place in time where we could trust everything someone says because it is true but unfortunately we are nowhere near that. Simply put, people lie to benefit themselves and hurt innocent lives. In 1994, a father won a lawsuit against 2 licensed therapist for implanting false memories of child abuse in his daughters head costing him his job and a lot more. This case was monumental and received national attention because it was the first time a court allowed a therapist to be sued for implanting false memories. Unfortunately this was not the last time for something awful like this to occur which is why I believe all convictions should be primarily evidence based.
According to the article “Memory and Manipulation” Loftus states that one’s recollections can be deceiving, and when persuaded by trusted individuals such as relatives, advisors, and cops requesting the identity of a suspect from different mugshots…very frequently one can recall occasions that did not occur and see individuals at the a crime scene that were not there. In addition, Loftus says, when therapists use hypnosis, sodium amenthol, guided interpretation, dream exercises, they can be extremely hazardous strategies to utilize if attempted in the expectation you can uncover true and precise recollections. (Memory and Manipulation, 2004)
Other factors play a significant role in memory as well, according to the American Psychological Association who briefly clarifies that juries don’t comprehend the many variables that can impact a witness’ capacity to precisely recognize a suspect, including how much pressure a witness is under, regardless of whether a weapon is available, the measure of time a witness needed to view the individual, the lighting present at the time, to what extent has it been since somebody initially saw the crime or proposals of blame by police. A person’s memory is influenced by retelling, and once in a while, one recalls a story differently than before or differently than someone else. (The limits of eyewitness testimony, 2011)
By fitting our stories to our audience members, our inclination changes the very arrangement of memory. The assurances of the judicial system against prosecutors and police “helping” a witness’ memory may not adequately guarantee the precision of those recollections. Despite the fact that prosecutors forgo “reviving” witness A’s memory by demonstrating her witness B’s declaration, the unimportant demonstration of telling prosecutors what happened may predisposition and change the witness’ memory. The eyewitness testimony is essentially suspect at that point. Too many flaws in the memory and the manipulation of the human mind can have a tremendous effect for the eye-witness’s testimony in criminal and civil court cases and may very well be the major cause of wrongful convictions. ( The problems with eyewitness testimony, 1995)
Abramsky, Sasha (2004). Memory and Manipulation. LA Weekly. Retrieved from www.laweekly.com/ Accessed 17 Jan 2018
Azar, Beth (2011). The limits of eyewitness testimony. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/eyewitness.aspx Accessed 17 Jan 2018
Tversky, Barbara (1995). The problem with the eyewitness testimony. Stanford Journal Of Legal Studies. Retrieved from agora.stanford.edu/sjls/Issue%20One/fisher&tversky.htmAccessed 17 Jan 2018