1 Aim: To investigate the accuracy in recall of
eye witnesses to a real crime, in response
to leading questions and over time.
2.1 13 of the original 21
eyewitnesses interviewed by
police took part in this study.
2.1.1 All aged 15-32. Only 3 were
female, 10 were male.
2.2 Researchers interviewed pps
4-5 months after the incident.
2.2.1 Interviews were recorded
2.2.2 Used same interviewing procedure as the
police had used - allowing them to give their
account first hand and then asking them
2.3 2 leading questions were used
in the interview.
2.3.1 Half the group were asked if they saw A
broken headlight. And the other half if
they saw THE broken headlight. There
was no broken headlight.
2.3.2 Half the pps were asked about A yellow
panel on the car. And the others about THE
yellow panel. The quarter panel was really
2.4 Pps were asked to rate the stress
they felt at the time of the incident,
using a tailored 7-point scale.
2.4.1 They were also asked in relation, if they had
had any emotional problems at the time or
since the event, such as sleeplessness.
2.5 A scoring procedure was introduced
to turn the qualitative data collected
into quantitative data.
2.5.1 The researchers decided to use a system of
'action details' and 'description details' to
collate information from the interviews.
22.214.171.124 The description details were
split further into 'object
descriptions' and 'people
3.1 The researchers found 552 action
details, this accounted for 52% of the
total details they obtained. 25% of the
details were personal details. 23% of
details found were object details.
3.2 Misleading questions had very
little effect on their recall.
3.2.1 10 of the eye witnesses said there was no broken
headlight and no yellow quarter panel at all on the
thief's car - which was correct to identify.
4.1 Eye witnesses are actually very
reliable. There were several factors
which made this true, including:
4.1.1 correctly recalling large numbers
of accurate details.
4.1.2 Almost always arguing the
4.2 researchers agreed it would be
hard to generalize the findings of
this study, as the case is unique,
and it is difficult to find a similar one
naturally occurring again.
4.3 Misleading questions had little effect
on the pps, which disagreed with
Loftus' theory on misleading questions.
5.1.1 Field study that looks at a real incident
with real eye witnesses. Therefore has
5.1.2 Great care was taken when counting the
details from the real incident to make
sure the witnesses testimonies did not
alter that which really happened, and this
scoring procedure allowed for reliable
5.1.3 The scoring procedure also produced
quantitative data from qualitative data, which
requires no subjective interpretation, and is
easier to base conclusions upon.
5.2.1 Lacks generalisability as it was a
one-off incident and a field study.
126.96.36.199 The researchers themselves have
suggested that this may be a case of
5.2.2 There were some weak points in the scoring
procedure, such as with a question based on age:
the theif was actually 35 years old, and when asked
to estimate his age, most pps said he looks as
though he was in his early 20s
188.8.131.52 This was marked as an inaccurate
memory, even though he really did
look that age.