33 Eyewitness Testimony and Memory Biases

Original chapter by  Cara Laney and Elizabeth F. Loftus adapted by the Queen’s University Psychology Department

This Open Access chapter was originally written for the NOBA project. Information on the NOBA project can be found below.

We encourage students to use the “Three-Step Method” for support in their learning. Please find our version of the Three-Step Method, created in collaboration with Queen’s Student Academic Success Services, at the following link: https://sass.queensu.ca/psyc100/

Eyewitnesses can provide very compelling legal testimony, but rather than recording experiences flawlessly, their memories are susceptible to a variety of errors and biases. They (like the rest of us) can make errors in remembering specific details and can even remember whole events that did not actually happen. In this module, we discuss several of the common types of errors, and what they can tell us about human memory and its interactions with the legal system.

Dr. Elizabeth Loftus in Her Own Words

Dr. Loftus is recognized around the world for her work in false memory. In this video, she gives a very brief overview of her work, and she notes the controversy that surrounds her work. This video is not intended to replace the details found in this chapter. Rather, it is intended to give you additional insights into Dr. Loftus’ work.

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