Outline and evaluate research into the effects of misleading information on EWT Watch

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Please can you look at my response to this essay question and give me any tips to improve it and what mark you think it would get... A01 is 6 marks and A02 is 6 marks. (12 marks total)

Misleading information is something that suggests to the witness what answer is desired or creates a false memory. Eyewitness testimony is the evidence provided by people who witnessed a particular event or crime, which relies on recall from memory.

Loftus & Palmer (1974a) Investigated roles of leading questions in recall. 45 American students were shown films of traffic accidents and then asked to estimate the speed of a motor vehicle in a video upon crashing, in the form of a questionnaire. Each group was asked ‘How fast was the car travelling when the cars (Hit, smashed, collided, bumped, contacted) with each other’. The group that were asked with the verb ‘smashed’, on average, estimated the highest speed whereas the group given the verb ‘contacted’ estimated the lowest speed on average. Therefore, Loftus and Palmer concluded that the use of different verbs activates different schemas in memory.

Loftus and Palmer’s second study (1974b) assessed whether misleading post event information can lead to the creation of false memories. They asked each group of students whether they saw any broken glass. The results showed that using the verb “smashed” lead to 52% believing there was broken glass, compared to 14% believing there was broken glass when the verb “hit” was used. Loftus and Palmer concluded that leading questions have an effect on recall of an event.

These studies lack external validity because they were done in an artificial environment (laboratory experiment) so there’s a low level of ecological validity and therefore the study can’t really be generalised. Moreover, there’s low population validity due to age bias – only students were used. Also, there’s a low level of mundane realism since if these participants did witness a crash in real life then they would be more emotionally aroused which would affect the results. Participants may have shown demand characteristics; since they couldn’t identify the true speed on a video therefore they may have used the verbs to make a decision.

However, since it was a laboratory experiment, the variables would have been controlled well which allows replicability. In addition, there’s a high level internal validity since Loftus & Palmer managed to show that misleading information does affect recall. There was also a large number of participants which meant that the experiment was more reliable.

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