False Memory in Criminal Investigation

C. J. Brainerd and V. F. Reyna

in The Science of False Memory

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780195154054
Published online January 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199868384 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Psychology Series

 False Memory in Criminal Investigation

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This chapter examines false-memory phenomena in adult witness interviews and in eyewitness identification of suspects. The chapter is divided into two sections. The first section contains examples of police interviews of victims, witnesses, and suspects in a typical case. It presents an overview of the centrality of police interviews in criminal investigation and the dilemmas posedt, and it ends with a discussion of the suggestive properties of such interviews as they are found in police interviewing protocols, such as the widely used Reid technique. The second section begins with an overview of the basic methods used to secure eyewitness identifications in the field, accompanied by recent statistics on the reliability of such identifications. It continues with a taxonomy of 24 factors — some of which are storage factors, retrieval factors, forgetting factors, and enduring characteristics of witnesses — whose effects on the reliability of eyewitness identifications have been established in experiments. The section concludes with two sets of research-based guidelines for eyewitness identifications, one promulgated by a leading scientific society (American Psychology and Law Society) and the other by the US Department of Justice, both aimed at reducing the incidence of false memory responses in eyewitness identification.

Keywords: adult witness interviews; eyewitness identification; false memories; police interviews; false confession

Chapter.  36715 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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