What Factors Can Affect Eyewitness Testimony?

What 4 factors affect the reliability of eyewitnesses?

Four factors that affect eyewitness reliability in VirginiaMemory mechanics.

Though we would like to believe that our memories are generally reliable and that we can accurately recall the details of what we observe, the truth is that our memories are often affected by the way we make sense of the world.


The presence of a weapon.


What are three factors that may interfere with the reliability of eyewitness testimony?

This is, in large part, because there are numerous factors that may affect the accuracy of eyewitness testimony.Memory reconstruction. … Lineup issues. … Visual characteristics. … Anxiety and stress. … Obtaining legal representation.

What type of evidence is eyewitness testimony?

Eyewitness testimony is a potent form of evidence for convicting the accused, but it is subject to unconscious memory distortions and biases even among the most confident of witnesses. So memory can be remarkably accurate or remarkably inaccurate. Without objective evidence, the two are indistinguishable.

What percentage of eyewitness testimony is accurate?

Since the 1990s, when DNA testing was first introduced, Innocence Project researchers have reported that 73 percent of the 239 convictions overturned through DNA testing were based on eyewitness testimony. One third of these overturned cases rested on the testimony of two or more mistaken eyewitnesses.

Why do leading questions affect eyewitness testimony?

Aim: To test their hypothesis that the language used in eyewitness testimony can alter memory. Thus, they aimed to show that leading questions could distort eyewitness testimony accounts and so have a confabulating effect, as the account would become distorted by cues provided in the question.

How does stress affect eyewitness testimony?

Early studies investigating the effects of stress on memory yielded inconsistent findings. Some re- searchers found that accuracy suffered when witnesses were under stress, others found that it was unaffected, and a minority of researchers reported improvements in accuracy.

Why is eyewitness testimony prone to distortion?

With information being retrieved in much the same form as it was encoded. … Schemas are therefore capable of distorting unfamiliar or unconsciously ‘unacceptable’ information in order to ‘fit in’ with our existing knowledge or schemas. This can, therefore, result in unreliable eyewitness testimony.

Why can eyewitness testimony be unreliable?

Research has found that eyewitness-identification testimony can be very unreliable. … Although witnesses can often be very confident that their memory is accurate when identifying a suspect, the malleable nature of human memory and visual perception makes eyewitness testimony one of the most unreliable forms of evidence.

What are the pros and cons of eyewitness testimony?

List of Pros of Eyewitness TestimonyIt can shed light into the sequence of the events that constitute the crime. … It can influence the decision of the jury. … It is generally reliable. … It can contain parts that are just made up by the witness due to pressure. … It is not always accurate. … It may convict the wrong person.

Are eye witnesses credible?

The same is true of eyewitness memory: memory can be contaminated with the trace of an innocent person, but under proper testing conditions, eyewitness evidence is highly reliable. As with DNA evidence, eyewitness evidence needs to be safeguarded against contamination.