Consequences of False Memories in Eyewitness Testimony: A Review and Implications for Chinese Legal Practice

Jianqin Wang, Henry Otgaar, Tom Smeets, Mark L. Howe, Harald Merckelbach, Chu Zhuo

Abstract


False memories can result in severe legal consequences including the imprisonment of innocent people. False memory in eyewitnesses is the largest factor contributing to miscarriages of justice in the United States. To date, no study has focused on how false memories might play a role in the Chinese legal system. The purpose of this review is to summarize the latest findings on false memory and eyewitness testimony in the literature, and to shed some light on how the Chinese legal system may incorporate these experiences into practice. Overall, false memories of eyewitnesses are generated either by external misleading information or by internal cognitive processes; false memories may guide police investigations in the wrong direction or cause eyewitnesses to misidentify an innocent person as the perpetrator. We conclude that specially designed interview protocols such as the Cognitive Interview, warnings given to eyewitnesses, and blind lineup administration may prevent or lower the risk of false memory occurrence.


Keywords


Chinese legal practice; eyewitness testimony; false memory

Full Text:

PDF

References


Abe, N., Okuda, J., Suzuki, M., Sasaki, H., Matsuda, T., Mori, E., ... & Fujii, T. (2008). Neural correlates of true memory, false memory, and deception. Cerebral Cortex, 18, 2811-2819.

Atkins, A. S., & Reuter-Lorenz, P. A. (2011). Neural mechanisms of semantic interference and false recognition in short-term memory. NeuroImage, 56, 1726-1734.

Bernstein, D. M., & Loftus, E. F. (2009). How to tell if a particular memory is true or false. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4, 370-374.

Blank, H., & Launay, C. (2014). How to protect eyewitness memory against the misinformation effect: A meta-analysis of post-warning studies. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 3, 77-88.

Bookbinder, S. H., & Brainerd, C. J. (2016). Emotion and false memory: The context–content paradox. Psychological Bulletin, 142, 1315-1351.

Bookbinder, S. H., & Brainerd, C. J. (2017). Emotionally negative pictures enhance gist memory. Emotion, 17, 102-119.

Brainerd, C. J., Holliday, R. E., Reyna, V. F., Yang, Y., & Toglia, M. P. (2010). Developmental reversals in false memory: Effects of emotional valence and arousal. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 107, 137-154.

Brainerd, C. J., Stein, L. M., Silveira, R. A., Rohenkohl, G., & Reyna, V. F. (2008). How does negative emotion cause false memories? Psychological Science, 19, 919-925.

Cabeza, R., Rao, S. M., Wagner, A. D., Mayer, A. R., & Schacter, D. L. (2001). Can medial temporal lobe regions distinguish true from false? An event-related functional MRI study of veridical and illusory recognition memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 98, 4805-4810.

Chadwick, M. J., Anjum, R. S., Kumaran, D., Schacter, D. L., Spiers, H. J., & Hassabis, D. (2016). Semantic representations in the temporal pole predict false memories. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113, 10180-10185.

Chen, X. (2015). Eyewitness identification research: from the perspectives of Law and Psychology (pp.83–84). Beijing, China: China Procuratorate Press. (in Chinese)

Chen, Y. (2007). A perspective on miscarriage of justice in China: An analysis based on 20 famous wrongful convicted cases. China Legal Science, 3, 45-61. (in Chinese)

Deese, J. (1959). On the prediction of occurrence of particular verbal intrusions in immediate recall. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 58, 17–22.

Dennis, N. A., Bowman, C. R., & Vandekar, S. N. (2012). True and phantom recollection: an fMRI investigation of similar and distinct neural correlates and connectivity. Neuroimage, 59, 2982-2993.

Dennis, N. A., Johnson, C. E., & Peterson, K. M. (2014). Neural correlates underlying true and false associative memories. Brain and Cognition, 88, 65-72.

Dysart, J. E., Lawson, V. Z., & Rainey, A. (2012). Blind lineup administration as a prophylactic against the postidentification feedback effect. Law and Human Behavior, 36, 312-319.

Eisen, M. L., Gabbert, F., Ying, R., & Williams, J. (2017). “I think he had a tattoo on his neck”: How co-witness discussions about a perpetrator's description can affect eyewitness identification decisions. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition.

Erickson, W. B., Lampinen, J. M., Wooten, A., Wetmore, S., & Neuschatz, J. (2016). When snitches corroborate: effects of post-identification feedback from a potentially compromised source. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 23, 148-160.

Fisher, R. P., & Schreiber, N. (2007). Interviewing protocols to improve eyewitness memory. The handbook of eyewitness psychology, 1, 53-80.

Foley, M. A., Bays, R. B., Foy, J., & Woodfield, M. (2015). Source misattributions and false recognition errors: Examining the role of perceptual resemblance and imagery generation processes. Memory, 23, 714-735.

Frenda, S. J., Nichols, R. M., & Loftus, E. F. (2011). Current issues and advances in misinformation research. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20, 20-23.

Gabbert, F., Memon, A., & Allan, K. (2003). Memory conformity: Can eyewitnesses influence each other's memories for an event?. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 17, 533-543.

Gabbert, F., Memon, A., & Wright, D. B. (2006). Memory conformity: Disentangling the steps toward influence during a discussion. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 13, 480-485.

Garrett, B. L. (2011). Convicting the innocent. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Gurney, D. J., Ellis, L. R., & Vardon-Hynard, E. (2016). The saliency of gestural misinformation in the perception of a violent crime. Psychology, Crime & Law, 22, 651-665.

Gurney, D. J., Pine, K. J., & Wiseman, R. (2013). The gestural misinformation effect: skewing eyewitness testimony through gesture. The American Journal of Psychology, 126, 301-314.

Gurney, D. J., Vekaria, K. N., & Howlett, N. (2014). A nod in the wrong direction: Does non-verbal feedback affect eyewitness confidence in interviews Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 21, 241-250.

Hege, A. C., & Dodson, C. S. (2004). Why distinctive information reduces false memories: evidence for both impoverished relational-encoding and distinctiveness heuristic accounts. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 30, 787-795.

Hope, L., Ost, J., Gabbert, F., Healey, S., & Lenton, E. (2008). “With a little help from my friends…”: The role of co-witness relationship in susceptibility to misinformation. Acta Psychologica, 127, 476-484.

Howe, M. L. (2005). Children (but not adults) can inhibit false memories. Psychological Science, 16, 927-931.

Howe, M. L. (2006). Developmentally invariant dissociations in children’s true and false memories: Not all relatedness is created equal. Child Development, 77, 1112-1123.

Howe, M. L., Candel, I., Otgaar, H., Malone, C., & Wimmer, M. C. (2010). Valence and the development of immediate and long-term false memory illusions. Memory, 18, 58-75.

Howe, M. L., & Knott, L. (2015). The fallibility of memory in judicial processes: Lessons from the past and their modern consequences. Memory, 23, 633–656.

Howe, M. L., Knott, L. M., & Conway, M. A. (2018). Memory and miscarriages of justice. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Howe, M. L., Wimmer, M. C., Gagnon, N., & Plumpton, S. (2009). An associative-activation theory of children’s and adults’ memory illusions. Journal of Memory and Language, 60, 229-251.

Kaplan, R. L., Van Damme, I., Levine, L. J., & Loftus, E. F. (2016). Emotion and false memory. Emotion Review, 8, 8-13.

Kebbell, M. R., & Giles, D. C. (2000). Some experimental influences of lawyers' complicated questions on eyewitness confidence and accuracy. The Journal of Psychology, 134, 129-139.

Kebbell, M. R., Evans, L., & Johnson, S. D. (2010). The influence of lawyers' questions on witness accuracy, confidence, and reaction times and on mock jurors' interpretation of witness accuracy. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 7, 262-272.

Kebbell, M. R., & Johnson, S. D. (2000). Lawyers' questioning: The effect of confusing questions on witness confidence and accuracy. Law and Human Behavior, 24, 629-641.

Lilienfeld, S. O., Ammirati, R., & Landfield, K. (2009). Giving debiasing away: Can psychological research on correcting cognitive errors promote human welfare? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4, 390-398.

Loftus, E. F. (1975). Leading questions and the eyewitness report. Cognitive Psychology, 7, 560-572.

Loftus, E. (2003). Our changeable memories: Legal and practical implications. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience, 4, 231-234.

Loftus, E. F. (2004). Memories of things unseen. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13, 145-147.

Loftus, E. F. (2005). Planting misinformation in the human mind: A 30-year investigation of the malleability of memory. Learning & Memory, 12, 361-366.

Loftus, E. F. (2013). 25 years of eyewitness science…… finally pays off. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 8, 556-557.

Memon, A., Meissner, C. A., & Fraser, J. (2010). The Cognitive Interview: A meta-analytic review and study space analysis of the past 25 years. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 16, 340-372.

Morgan, C. A., Southwick, S., Steffian, G., Hazlett, G. A., & Loftus, E. F. (2013). Misinformation can influence memory for recently experienced, highly stressful events. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 36, 11-17.

Norman, K. A., & Schacter, D. L. (1997). False recognition in younger and older adults: Exploring the characteristics of illusory memories. Memory & Cognition, 25, 838-848.

Otgaar, H., Candel, I., Merckelbach, H., & Wade, K. A. (2009). Abducted by a UFO: Prevalence information affects young children's false memories for an implausible event. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23, 115-125.

Otgaar, H., & Howe, M.L. (in press). Finding the truth in the courtroom: Dealing with deception, lies, and memories. Oxford University Press.

Otgaar, H., Howe, M. L., Brackmann, N., & Smeets, T. (2016). The malleability of developmental trends in neutral and negative memory illusions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 145, 31.

Otgaar, H., Howe, M. L., Brackmann, N., & van Helvoort, D. H. (2017). Eliminating age differences in children’s and adults’ suggestibility and memory conformity effects. Developmental Psychology, 53, 962-970.

Otgaar, H., Sauerland, M., & Petrila, J. P. (2013). Novel shifts in memory research and their impact on the legal process: introduction to the special issue on memory formation and suggestibility in the legal process. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 31, 531-540.

Paterson, H. M., Kemp, R., & McIntyre, S. (2012). Can a witness report hearsay evidence unintentionally? The effects of discussion on eyewitness memory. Psychology, Crime & Law, 18, 505-527.

Peterson, J. L., Hickman, M. J., Strom, K. J., & Johnson, D. J. (2013). Effect of forensic evidence on criminal justice case processing. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 58, 78-90.

Payne, J. D., Nadel, L., Allen, J. J., Thomas, K. G., & Jacobs, W. J. (2002). The effects of experimentally induced stress on false recognition. Memory, 10, 1-6.

Porter, S., Taylor, K., & ten Brinke, L. (2008). Memory for media: Investigation of false memories for negatively and positively charged public events. Memory, 16, 658-666.

Roediger III, H. L., Balota, D. A., & Watson, J. M. (2001). Spreading activation and arousal of false memories. In H. L. Roediger III, J. S. Nairne, I. Neath, & A. M. Surprenant (Eds), The nature of remembering: Essays in honor of Robert G. Crowder (pp. 95-115). Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

Roediger, H.L., & McDermott, K.B. (1995). Creating false memories: remembering words not presented in lists. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 21, 803–14.

Schacter, D. L. (2012). Adaptive constructive processes and the future of memory.. American Psychologist, 67, 603–613.

Schacter, D.L., Chamberlain, J., Gaesser, B. & Gerlach, K. Neuroimaging of true, false, and imaginary memories. in Memory and Law (ed. L. Nadel & W.P. Sinnott-Armstrong) 233-262. (Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 2012).

Schacter, D. L., Israel, L., & Racine, C. (1999). Suppressing false recognition in younger and older adults: The distinctiveness heuristic. Journal of Memory and Language, 40, 1-24.

Schacter, D. L., & Loftus, E. F. (2013). Memory and law: what can cognitive neuroscience contribute? Nature neuroscience, 16, 119-123.

Searcy, J., Bartlett, J. C., & Memon, A. (2000). Influence of post‐event narratives, line‐up conditions and individual differences on false identification by young and older eyewitnesses. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 5, 219-235.

Sharman, S. J., & Powell, M. B. (2012). A comparison of adult witnesses' suggestibility across various types of leading questions. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 26, 48-53.

Skagerberg, E. M., & Wright, D. B. (2008). The prevalence of co-witnesses and co-witness discussions in real eyewitnesses. Psychology, Crime & Law, 14, 513-521.

Skagerberg, E. M., & Wright, D. B. (2009). Susceptibility to postidentification feedback is affected by source credibility. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23, 506-523.

Slotnick, S. D., & Schacter, D. L. (2004). A sensory signature that distinguishes true from false memories. Nature Neuroscience, 7, 664-672.

Slotnick, S. D., & Schacter, D. L. (2006). The nature of memory related activity in early visual areas. Neuropsychologia, 44, 2874-2886.

Smalarz, L., & Wells, G. L. (2014). Post-identification feedback to eyewitnesses impairs evaluators’ abilities to discriminate between accurate and mistaken testimony. Law and Human Behavior, 38, 194-202.

Smeets, T., Jelicic, M., & Merckelbach, H. (2006). The effect of acute stress on memory depends on word valence. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 62, 30-37.

Smeets, T., Otgaar, H., Candel, I., & Wolf, O. T. (2008). True or false? Memory is differentially affected by stress-induced cortisol elevations and sympathetic activity at consolidation and retrieval. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 33, 1378-1386.

Stark, C. E., Okado, Y., & Loftus, E. F. (2010). Imaging the reconstruction of true and false memories using sensory reactivation and the misinformation paradigms. Learning & Memory, 17, 485-488.

State v. Henderson (2011), 208 N.J. 208.

Steblay, N. K., Wells, G. L., & Douglass, A. B. (2014). The eyewitness post identification feedback effect 15 years later: Theoretical and policy implications. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 20, 1-18.

Vallano, J. P., & Compo, N. S. (2011). A comfortable witness is a good witness: Rapport‐building and susceptibility to misinformation in an investigative mock‐crime interview. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 25, 960-970.

Van de Ven, V., Otgaar, H., & Howe, M. L. (2017). A neurobiological account of false memories. In Finding the truth in the courtroom: Dealing with deception, lies, and memories. Oxford University Press.

Wells, G. L., Olson, E. A., & Charman, S. D. (2003). Distorted retrospective eyewitness reports as functions of feedback and delay. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 9, 42-52.

Wise, R. A., & Safer, M. A. (2012). A method for analyzing the accuracy of eyewitness testimony in criminal cases. Court Review, 48, 22-34.

Wright, D. B., & Skagerberg, E. M. (2007). Postidentification feedback affects real eyewitnesses. Psychological Science, 18, 172-178.

Wright, D. B., Memon, A., Skagerberg, E. M., & Gabbert, F. (2009). When eyewitnesses talk. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 174-178.

Zajac, R., Dickson, J., Munn, R., & O'neill, S. (2016). Trussht me, I know what I sshaw: The acceptance of misinformation from an apparently unreliable co‐witness. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 21, 127-140.

Zajac, R., & Henderson, N. (2009). Don't it make my brown eyes blue: Co-witness misinformation about a target's appearance can impair target-absent line-up performance. Memory, 17, 266-278.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.7454/proust.v1i1.15

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Copyright (c) 2018 The Author(s)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

PRoUSt secretariat:

Building B 1st Floor, Faculty of Psycology, Universitas Indonesia, Depok, 16424, Indonesia.

Copyright © 2019 Psychological Research on Urban Society (PRoUSt).

2615-8582 (online), 2620-3960 (print).