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Memory Research And Cognitive Psychology Essay

2872 words (11 pages) Essay in Psychology

5/12/16 Psychology Reference this

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The area that’s been studied in this experiment is cognitive psychology; it’s how people acquire process and store information. Cognitive researches have numerous practical applications, such as how to increase decision-making accuracy, and ways to improve memory, and how to structure educational curricula to enhance learning. The major topic cognitive psychology study is Perception, Language, Attention, Memory, Problem Solving, Intelligent, Decision Making and Judgment (Robert, L. S. 2001). The topic that was been studied in this experiment was memory. Memory refers to the processes that are used to acquire, store, retain and later retrieve information. There are three major processes involved in memory: encoding, storage and retrieval.

Memory research is a large an growing area within cognitive psychology and they all have the common aim of applying theoretical knowledge of memory processes to areas of practical significance. They all apply theoretical understanding to practical problems which is shared by eminent psychologists from many countries. Gruneberg, M 1988 stated that, these theoretical application and understanding are of interest not only to researchers and teachers in the field of memory, but also to other professionals seeking useful and stimulating ideas in the area of legal, clinical and educational psychology.

The study was carried out to investigate if BSC joint honours Psychology and Criminology students have an accurate memory of eyewitness testimony, compare to BSC single honours Psychology students (control group). Empirical study conducted by journal of Law and Human Behaviour denotes that when ask to the recall information from the video, the identification was mostly weapon focus (Kerri, L. Pickel, 1999). They concluded that it was because weapons are surprising and unexpected within many contexts in which they appear. United States vs. Wade case in 1967 poses the serious problem in the administration of criminal justice, of unreliability of eyewitness identification (Levine, R. Tapp. 1973). It suggests that the frequency of wrongful convictions resulting from mistake identification and long have recognised that such misidentification poses the question of the ideals of criminal system. Furthermore, it’s been argued that scientific laboratory and field research can contribute to the court’s better understanding of those factors which contribute to both accurate and mistaken eyewitness recall and identification. Attention is given to the value of common knowledge in prediction of eyewitness memory performance, to the major critiques of eyewitness testimony, and to the worth of legal safeguards designed to prevent false identification at times leading to wrongful convictions. Expert eyewitness testimony provides an opportunity for the fact to be assisted in decision-making such that convictions of innocent suspects may be minimized, and the conviction of guilty suspects maximized (Yarmey, A.D. 2001).

This study is trying to accomplish whether criminology student have an accurate eyewitness testimony which will have an implication not just in the field of education but also to the justice system. Nearly 100 years ago, Hugo Munsterberg (1908) argued that because experimental psychology concerns itself with the scientific study of human behaviour and experience, the results of laboratory studies on human perception and memory should be especially relevant to courts’ evaluations of eyewitness testimony. Unfortunately, Munsterberg’s proposals lacked sufficient empirical support and attacked the legal establishment for their lack of appreciation and endorsement of psychology’s offerings. Furthermore, this study would aid in developing of an accuracy and reliability guidelines of eyewitness testimony. Leippe & Micheal, R. 1995 emphasised that the psychological and legal professions should develop responsible guidelines to use for expert testimony in court. Furthermore, Journal of contemporary criminal justice published an article attempts to rethink the study of miscarriages of justice. They emphasis on systematically develop a more sophisticated, insightful, and generalised criminology of eyewitness testimony.

John and colleagues describe how eyewitness researchers shaped understanding of eyewitness evidence issues over a long period of time through research and theory on system variables (John, W. Fulero. Solomon, M. 2000). Furthermore, Wigmore and other legal scholars of that period encouraged the application of scientifically valid research findings to the courts’ better understanding of witness testimony (Sporer, 1982). This study would demonstrate the accuracy and reliability of criminology students’ memory on eyewitness testimony, which will help the judicial system. A well designed empirical study indicated that jury who heard the expert testimony where more like to consider it accurate and reliable, and this influenced their judgement. Furthermore, if this study is not conducted then there is a danger of relying on criminology students’ testimony as reliable and accurate which may lead to wrong conviction.

Leippe, 1995 stated that expert testimony can provide scientific information which could assist in interpreting and evaluating eyewitness statements of “what happened” and “who did it”. Furthermore, Yarmey, A.D. 2001 suggested that a particular variable or set of variables was present at the time of the witnessing, and those variables are known through scientific research to have a particular effect or set of effects on eyewitness testimony. Then it is possible that expert testimony on those witnessing conditions could be relevant and of assistance to the jury in evaluating particular points at issue.

Police personnel as eyewitnesses to a violent crime.

Empirical study conducted to explore whether police personnel are more correct in their observations of a violent crime in comparison to civilians (Christianson. & Ake, S. 1998) It was hypothesized that if policemen have a talent for and interest in observation, recruits and experienced police officers should be more accurate than civilians (the selection for admittance hypothesis). Alternatively, if policemen during their education and experience as police officers improve their ability for observation, then police personnel should perform better than recruits and civilians (the hypothesis of professionalisation). 61 university students, 31 teachers, 60 police recruits, and 59 police officers with at least 3 yrs of professional experience were presented with a series of slides depicting a simulated violent crime. After the presentation of the slides, the 4 groups were tested on what they remembered of different aspects of the crime and their ability to recognize the perpetrator. The overall results showed that police officers were more accurate at remembering details of the crime than police recruits, civilian students, and teachers. The difference was not related to age, general working experience, or a better memory capacity per seen among the police officers.

This study does demonstrate that expert who has talent and interest in observation have an accurate memory of eyewitness testimony. However, they didn’t use an equal number of participants in each group, which leads to inaccurate and bias results. Therefore, in this study they would use equal number of participants in each group.

Who can judge the accuracy of eyewitness statements? A comparison of professionals and lay-persons.

Relevant research suggests that people have difficulty estimating eyewitness accuracy. It is not known whether groups with professional experience of judging eyewitness memory are better at making such judgments than lay-persons (Lindholm, T. 2008). In this current study, police detectives, judges and lay-persons judged accuracy of responses to cues recall questions from ethnic in- and out-group witnesses who genuinely tried to remember a crime. Responses were presented in videotape or as transcripts. Police detectives outperformed the other groups in accuracy recall, and participants performed better when statements were presented in transcribed than in videotaped format. Judges used a liberal response criterion overall, whereas detectives and lay-persons were more liberal when judging out-group than in-group witnesses. Findings indicate that there are observable cues to witnesses’ accuracy, that specific professional groups have more knowledge of these cues than others, and that judgments of accuracy based on live testimony rather than transcripts would increase quality of legal decisions.

This study does demonstrate that specific professional group especially professionals who has experiences of judging eyewitness memory have much more accurate memory of eyewitness testimony. However, they used lay-person and police detectives in their study, therefore it can’t be generalised to criminology professionals. Therefore in this study they would use criminology students’, to measure the accuracy of criminology students’ memory of eyewitness testimony.

AIM: was to investigate if BSC joint honours Psychology and Criminology students’ have an accurate memory of eyewitness testimony compare to BSC single honours Psychology students’ (control group).

EXPERIMENT HYPOTHESIS: there would be a significant difference in the accuracy of recall on eyewitness testimony between BSC joint honours psychology and criminology students’, and BSC single honours psychology students’ (control group).

NULL HYPOTHESIS: there would be no significant difference in the accuracy of recall on eyewitness testimony between BSC joint honours Psychology and Criminology students’, and BSC single honours Psychology students’ (control group) other than due to chance.

DESIGN:

The method adopted in this investigation was experimental independent group measure, which allows a high level of control through the experiment so cause and effect can be measured. It’s an independent group measure because each participant only took part in one condition. This helps to avoid order effect as participants only taking part in one condition. The independent variable (I.V) is the variable which is been manipulated in the experiment. The I.V in this experiment was course of study and the 2 condition were: BSC joint honours Psychology and Criminology, and BSC single honours Psychology students’. The dependent variable (D.V) is the variable that is been measured. In this experiment the D.V was accurate number of information recall from the pictures by joint honours Psychology and Criminology students, and single honours Psychology students.

In order for I.V to have an effect on D.V, influences of all other extraneous variable were controlled in this experiment, so cause and effect could be measured. These included room temperature, audience effect, noise and time of the day. Extraneous variable are those that interfere with the experiment and weaken the final results.

PARTICIPANTS:

The target population used in this experiment were level 2 undergraduate university of Salford students, who studied either single honours Psychology or joint honours Psychology and Criminology. The20 participants who were represented of the target population were involved in the study: 10 joint honours Psychology and Criminology students’ and 10 single honours Psychology students’. All participants were 2nd year students’ and they were differed in age, race, ethnicity and religion, therefore the results from this study would be reliable and generalied to the target population. The sampling method used in this experiment was opportunity sampling, because the participants that took part were readily available to the researcher. This made the investigation simpler, easier to carry out and less time consuming.

MATERIAL:

There were 3 pictures that were used in this study: picture1.of a girl been mugged, 2.of a man breaking in the house and 3.Of 2 boys getting beaten up by a gang of boys (appendix 3). These pictures were shown to the participants, in order for them to witness the crime, and this was used to measure accuracy of participants’ memory of eyewitness testimony. It was obtained from www.google.com on 6th April 2010. For example, Mugging was typed in, then they clicked on images and this gave pictures of mugging. The most appropriate picture was copied and pasted on to Microsoft power point and this was repeated with picture 2 and 3. A list of 15 questions (appendix 4) was used, asking participants question about the description of the crime and the perpetrator, following from the picture slides that participants observed. There were 5 questions for each picture and it was written by the research to measure the accuracy of eyewitness testimony between undergraduate joint honours Psychology and Criminology students, and single honours Psychology students.

A participant’s information sheet (appendix1) was given to the participants to inform them about the nature of the study that there are some sensitive pictures of violence, and what is expected of them, the application of the study and their right to withdraw from the experiment at any time, confidentiality and anonymity of their results. A consent form (appendix 2) was also given to participants to inform them about their rights and ask their consent to use their results for the study. furthermore, a stop watch was used to measure the time duration each picture was shown to the participants, 10 seconds.

PROCEDURE:

Potential participants of the target population were approach, and they were asked if they like to take in a 2nd year cognitive experiment. If they agreed to take part in the experiment, they were given participants information sheet to read and understand the experiment. Then they were asking if they still want to continue to take part in the experiment. If they agreed then they were ask to read and sign the consent form. Then they were assigned to a computer in L810 and they were asked to closely observe the pictures. When they were ready they were shown a picture slides of a crime been committed, each picture was shown for 10seconds. Then, they were given a list of 15questions asking about the description of the crime and the perpetrator, to measure the accuracy of participants’ memory of eyewitness testimony. Later they were thanked for taking part in the experiment.

Each participant’s answer was marked and the difference between the scores of 2 groups: BSC joint honours Psychology and Criminology students and BSC single honours Psychology students was evaluated using spss.

RESULTS

GROUP STATISTICS

Group

N

Mean

Std.Deviation

Std. Error Mean

Scores

*Psychology and criminology students

* Psychology students

10

10

10.30

8.20

3.129

3.967

.989

1.254

INDEPENDENT SAMPLES TEST

Levene’s Test for Equality of Variance

t-test for Equality of Means

F

Sig.

t

Df

Scores

*Equal variances assumed

*Equal variances not assumed

1.308

.268

1.314

1.314

18

17.074

An independent t-test was also conducted to evaluate the differences in mean between the groups (Appendix 5). This test tests is fairly robust against departures from the assumptions about the data.

The mean score suggest that Bsc Psychology and Criminology students (10.30) have accurate memory of eyewitness testimony compare to BSC single honours psychology students (8.20). The standard deviation shows that Bsc Psychology and Criminology students (3.129), and BSC single honours psychology students (3.967), this implicates that Psychology student results is more spread out then Psychology and Criminology student (appendix 5).

Furthermore, The descriptive statistics table above shows that BSC joint honor Psychology and Criminology students have an accurate memory of eyewitness testimony compare to single honor Psychology students (t=1.314, df=18, P<0.268). However, the significant value was greater than 0.05 means which denotes that the variability in the two conditions is not the same. The scores in one condition vary too much more than the scores in the second condition. It means that the variability in the two conditions is significantly different. therefore, the results are insignificant because the probability significant level was greater than 0.05.

DISCUSSION

The purpose of this study was to investigate if BSC joint honours Psychology and Criminology students have an accurate memory of eyewitness testimony compare to BSC single honours Psychology students (control group). The results demonstrate, that BSC joint honours Psychology and Criminology students have an accurate memory of eyewitness testimony compare to BSC single honours Psychology students (control group).

However, the probability significant level was 0.268 which greater than 0.05. This shows that there would is no significant difference in the accuracy of recall on eyewitness testimony between BSC joint honours Psychology and Criminology students’, and BSC single honours Psychology students’. Furthermore, this demonstrates that the results are due to chance, and it’s not due to manipulation of I.V that had an effect on D.V. Therefore the experiment hypothesis was rejected and the null hypothesis was accepted.

This empirical study doesn’t supports past research by Lindholm and Christianson &Ake and other researchers that, expert have an accurate memory of eyewitness testimony. However, this can be because the sample size was to small compare to the sample size use in other study. For the results to be applicable and reliable, the study need to be conducted on large scale using large number of participants and using another sampling method e.g. random sampling, to enable the results to be generalised to the overall target population. Furthermore, previous research by Durham, M. D. &Dane, F. C. (1999) provide evidence that students’ eyewitness testimony memory is not an effective measure to rely on compare to expert in the field.

This study would have an impact not only in the field of cognitive psychology and education but in the field of law and criminology. As this study indicates that criminology student doesn’t have an accurate and effective memory on eyewitness testimony. Furthermore, it would also aid in the development of a reliable and generalised guidelines, of criminology students eyewitness testimony memory. This study can lead to further findings in to the field e.g. does criminology expert have an accurate memory of eyewitness testimony compare to criminology students’.

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