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Memory Illusions and Confidence in Eyewitness Testimony: Effects of Test and Question Type Variables After the Declaration of Independent Memory Reports

Nurhan Er, Gül Alpar, Fatma Uçar
2005; 20(56):45-60

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In this experiment, memory illusions and confidence for a real criminal event were investigated as a function of test and question types afterthe declaration of independent memory reports of witnesses. In the studying phase of the experiment, participants were presented 52 event slides and asked to write their independent memory reportsfor the observed event and rate confidence level for their reports at 7 point scale. After completing filler task, they answered the questions under misleading, leading or neutral conditions in recall or recognition test for 10 critical items and also, rated their confidence of memories related these critics. Finishing the memory test was followed by another filler task. At the last part of the experiment, participants were asked to write their second memory reports of the event, and rate confidence level for the second reports, too. Results for the critics showed the main and interaction effects of test and questiontypesuponthe memory errors and confidence ratings. In the recall test,participants exhibited much more memory illusions under the misleading condition but low confidence rate.Our analysis upon the first and second memory report comparisons demonstrated that post event information effect was also bit reflected to second report of participants in a general sense. From a practical point of view, findings would imply that evaluators of witness' should be aware of different interrogation effects which can be altering memory trace and confidence.

Keywords: Memory illusions, independent memory report, eyewitness confidence, test and question types