Unreliable memories of eyewitness Xiaohan Wang Department of psychology University of Victoria

Unreliable memories of eyewitness
Xiaohan WangDepartment of psychology
University of VictoriaPSYC 431Dr. Katia DilkinaFeb. 23, 2022
 
Generally, most individuals would want to believe that they can recall their childhood memories or prior events precisely; however, their recollections are not as accurate as they seem. Palmer and Dodson (2009) define false memory as “a memory of something that did not occur or the remembering of something differently from the way in which it occurred”. False memory has been part of the most thoroughly researched issues in psychology over the last quarter of a century. There are many high-stakes scenarios in which the implications of false recollections may be rather significant; for example, the testimony of a witness in a legal case can be affected by false memories. A person’s level of motivational intensity, such as fear, disgust, or rage, is crucial in influencing their attention to critical events to avoid hazards and overcome barriers. Some of its issues include delivering information with tremendous emotion yet being inaccurate.
I have always believed that false allegations, incorrect criminal convictions, and litigation are consequences of false memories for emotional processing in these circumstances. The notion of cognitive psychology helps people comprehend why they feel the way they do. Memories are shaped and reshaped by the beliefs and knowledge of the people who have them. Moreover, people’s most enduring and vivid recollections tend to be based on their emotions. When people are in a state of intense emotional stress, they focus on the aspects of the situation that are most important to their current goals, which helps them remember the information in more detail. When we are under a lot of pressure, our focus narrows, making us more susceptible to being misled and losing track of what we have learned.
Loftus and Palmer, conducted an experiment in 1974, for the participants watched a video of a car accident, to ask questions How fast the car smashed/hit/bumped/collided/contacted each other. As a result, participants’ predicted times were influenced by the use of verbs (Loftus & Palmer, 1974). ? In other words, it seems that such inaccuracies result from natural, internal distortion mechanisms that are a typical component of how episodic memory works; that is, they are the natural byproducts of attempting to recall familiar experiences that match the essence of events that were experienced. Accordingly when witnesses testify in court, lawyers and prosecutors repeatedly ask them questions according to their own views. Under this influence, the authenticity of witnesses’ answers according to their own memories of so-called “things seen with their own eyes” needs to be investigated.
In court, jurors attach great importance to the testimony of witnesses, but false memories of witnesses are one of the causes of injustice in the American judicial system (Wang et al., 2018). The memory of witnesses is influenced by other information about the event. After the witnessed event has occurred, exposure to alternative sources of information related to the event may lead witnesses to attribute false information to the eyewitness, such as testimony from other eyewitnesses and media reports(Carpenter & Krendl, 2016). Incorrect perceptions, resemblance, interference, and misattributions contribute to false recollections.
Much attention has been paid to the “circumplex model of emotion” (Russell, 1991), which asserts that emotions change continually along primary dimensions of polarity and physical arousal. Arousal, according to Russell, may range from a tranquil state to one of ecstasy. According to several conceptions of the term, valence may also be characterized as a spectrum ranging from approach to retreat or from positivity to negativity. According to current theories on real-world examples, false emotional memories may not have a simple relationship to false memories. Tragedies like the September 11 attacks that were filled with very negative emotions, even decades after the fact, most individuals have vivid recollections of the events in question (Hirst et al., 2015). It has been argued that this is due to the events’ strong emotional content. When we encounter events, our emotions influence how we perceive them; Thus, we can think of emotions as part of both the content of the event and the experience itself. We must remember that our emotions may or may not match the emotional content of an event.
Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain mistaken memories. Fuzzy trace theory is one of them. The double storage of memory is described in this theory as the mechanism for managing these misleading memories. General thrust memory and genuine memory are the two forms of memory that make up this dual process. It may be regarded as having fuzzy images of a previous event that grasp the core meaning of the substance (Olszewska et al., 2021).
On the other hand, Verbatim memory provides a more complete and accurate account of a former experience. Together, gist and verbatim boost accurate identification and recall, but gist on its own creates false memory or incorrect recollection (Olszewska et al., 2021). Emotion has been extensively researched as a component of false memory. Emotions may play a role in properly or incorrectly recalling events. A person’s emotional memories may be just as prone to distortion in different memory paradigms as neutral materials, despite their belief that their emotional recollections are accurate (Palmer & Dodson, 2009). False memories and true recollections may both be influenced by emotional circumstances.
Consider, for example, those who have seen violent crimes and are now being interviewed by the police about what they saw and heard. The circumflex model of emotion refers to too many unpleasant and stimulating experiences because of their high emotional content. However, individual witnesses’ emotions may have differed at the time. Before the incident, some people may have been cheerful, but they soon changed their feelings to ones of terror and rage. Although the emotional substance of the events stays essentially constant, witnesses’ emotions may nevertheless be altered at the time of police questioning. The issue here is that the emotional content of occurrences and the psychological context of moods are not the same.
Law presents a commonsense response to the emotion-false memory problem, which is that emotional content immunizes memory from distortion, to the degree that it is nearly difficult to have false recollections of situations whose material is extremely emotional. Expert evidence in some cases, such as defending those accused of inserting false traumatic memories events in plaintiffs, commonly incorporates this position (Brainerd & Reyna, 2005). It has been demonstrated that people can recall harrowing and neurotraumatic events they did not have firsthand, such as being abused as a child in a past life, being kidnapped by extraterrestrials, performing embarrassing acts in public, being injured seriously enough to require hospitalization, and even owning up major crimes. 
Data reveal that even extremely emotional experiences are susceptible to false memory distortion. Still, fundamental problems concerning the emotion-false memory association need to be clarified before research and theory can go on to more complex issues. These first three are the most basic. The first question to ask is whether or not there is a straightforward directed link between the emotional consequences of experience and the distortion of false memories. When it comes to emotional variety, does false memory’s reaction to it rely on its valence (positive or negative) or how stimulating it is? How does false memory respond to emotional variance regarding where it is located concerning the substance of an event or the context in which it is experienced, and how does this affect its response? In this evaluation, we consider the answers to these questions, and we anticipate that the final two will be yes while the first will be no. It will be discovered that whether or not an emotion affects memory positively or negatively depends on where it is stored: in the experience’s content or its setting.
Emotion-false amnesia has been extensively examined, and the results have yielded useful insights. One of them is that the effects differ depending on whether or not the target content is affected by emotion or the moods of the individuals. Contrary to expected, the two approaches had substantially different outcomes. Even though this pattern is unexpected, it can be explained by modern opponent-process ideas. Gist memory is the primary source of emotional content effects. At the same time, verbatim recall is the primary source of emotional clustering, at least in terms of the moods of the participants studied. It is true to conclude that false allegations, incorrect criminal convictions, and litigation are consequences of false memories for emotional processing in these circumstances. The idea of false memory has several advantages and disadvantages. I trust the use of the app is compelling, and it gives useful information about false memories. Memory that is not important to the person’s goals is sacrificed in favor of memory relevant to the individual’s goals. It may leave people vulnerable to a misunderstanding about these facts. However, the program has a disadvantage because it may provide inaccurate information about different situations if users are exposed to memories that affect their feelings.
References
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Carpenter, A., & Krendl, A. (2016). Are eyewitness accounts biased? Evaluating false memories for crimes involving in-group or out-group conflict. Social Neuroscience, 13(1), 74-93. https://doi.org/10.1080/17470919.2016.1253610
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Wang, J., Otgaar, H., Smeets, T., Howe, M., Merckelbach, H., & Zhuo, C. (2018).
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