The University of Queensland
1. 77,000 individuals are arrested in the United States each year based primarily on eyewitness testimony (ref.). Given the pivotal role that eyewitness testimony plays in some trials, it is important to establish whether or not the jury faith in this testimony is warranted. Establishes significance of territory.
2. study has shown that eyewitness errors are the most common cause of false convictions (ref.). Almost all innocent individuals exonerated by DNA evidence had been convicted primarily as a result of erroneous eyewitness evidence (ref.) Consequently, a great deal of research has focussed on the unreliability of eyewitness testimony (refs.). Establishes research niche. (Briefly reviews what has been found, and then identifies a gap. Discusses what has been found, but points out inconsistency of results.)
3. current thesis examines the third way that postevent misinformation may be encountered: through other witnesses. This area has been surprisingly neglected until recently, as the majority of the literature on eyewitness testimony has focussed on the effect of questions and media reports containing misleading information. Motivates next part of literature review.
4. and Morris (1998) suggest that, capricious results among these investigations are probably due to methodological differences and variability in subject matter (p. 1638). To appreciate the effects of co witness information on eyewitness reports, we must examine, in detail, the different methodologies that have been used to investigate this topic. Further justifies the need to investigate the impact of social influences on memory.
5. However, such a narrow focus may not fully explain how people remember (ref.). Because such is common to memory, understanding its effects enables greater knowledge of memory itself (ref.). Therefore, instead of intentionally avoiding the social aspects of memory, they should be explored in their own right. Reviews the chronological development of research in this area (an approach that is useful at times, but not always the best). Discusses one key paper at a time by describing its methods and key findings, but then identifies weaknesses in the method and/or limitations in the findings. Then discusses how the next researchers tried to address these problems.
6. One should not assume the results obtained from studies using stories and word lists as stimuli can be generalised to forensic contexts. group performance should not be compared with individual performance but rather with groups comprised of pooled, non redundant data from the same number of people tested individually. Repeats 6 for another sub topic.
8. Most research involving the Experimentally Induced Information methodology seeks to identify the influence of misinformation presented by one witness to another, and therefore the assumption is made that discussion between witnesses is a detrimental process. It may therefore be advantageous to also investigate the effects of co witness information using Natural Discussion Groups as this methodology has high ecological validity. However, few studies have used this methodology, and those that have, have yielded mixed findings. Therefore, future investigation using the Natural Discussion Group methodology would be helpful to better understand the effects of discussion on memory. 2. Theoretical Explanations of Memory Conformity
1. the misinformation effect is a well established phenomenon, remains in dispute is the nature of a satisfactory theoretical explanation (ref.). Therefore, in order to understand why memory conformity occurs, we must draw from both cognitive research on memory and social research on conformity. In this section, relevant cognitive and social theories are discussed in order to (1) explain the occurrence of memory conformity and (2) describe factors that influence memory conformity. Introduction/overview of the structure of the review.
2. distinct explanations have been offered for the memory conformity effect: (1) The empirical evidence relevant to each of these explanations is reviewed in this section. For each of the four explanations, followed typical structure of: (a) definition; (b) when might happen; (c) evidence supporting explanation; (d) limitations of this explanation as being whole story (this is the part of a critical review).
3. normative social influence may explain the conformity that occurs in it is an unlikely explanation for memory conformity that may occur when people give individual statements following discussion in the absence of their co witness. (Then reason why) Thought went into the choice of order. There was some comparison between later and earlier explanations and the synthesised conclusions that can be drawn.
4. suggestion that memory conformity is a result of biased guessing is similar to the informational influence explanation because in both instances However, the distinguishing feature between the two explanations is that biased guessing may account for the misinformation effect that occurs in some instances (refs.), research suggests that it is not the only reason for the occurrence of the misinformation effect. (Supporting evidence) This suggests that the misinformation effect may be due at least partially to memory impairment, rather than just biased guessing. Sums up what has been learned from the review of the four current theoretical explanations. Identifies which explanations are likely to be valid in explaining the results of experiments conducted for this thesis. Aims to resolve theoretical uncertainties.
5. influence, biased guessing, and modification of memory may help to explain why memory conformity occurs when participants are tested individually, as they are in the studies presented in this thesis. The research presented in this thesis compares these alternative explanations to determine which best explains memory conformity in individual recall following co witness discussion. (Why this is important to do) Discusses methodological issues in achieving aim.
6. way to determine whether memory conformity occurs because of biased guessing is to described in this thesis (Studies 5 7) include a warning for some participants about possible misinformation in an attempt to determine whether participants report misinformation because of informational influence or memory change. Introduces another question of interest and reviews what has been found so far.
7. it has been shown that in some circumstances many people tend to conform to the opinions of others, we also know that some people are able to resist conforming in some situations. For example, This section of the literature review examines factors influencing whether or not a person is likely to conform that are (1) in the situation, and (2) within the individual. Relevance to thesis is made clear.
8. the experiments described in this thesis do not attempt to manipulate and test the factors that influence conformity, they are used to help understand the results obtained and consider implications of the findings.