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Eyewitness Credibility

This is one of those blogs that is intended to make you think about the reliability of testimony evidence. Consider that there have been defendants that were sent to death row because of eyewitness testimony.

In 1998, researchers from Harvard and Kent State decided to test the reliability of  truly seeing what you see.   Here is the study for full reading (here). The researchers decided to study pedestrians (their test subjects) to determine whether people really notice what is around them. In the experiment, an actor would come up to a pedestrian and ask for directions.

While the pedestrian was giving the person directions, two men carrying a large door would walk between the actor and the pedestrian. For a moment, neither the person giving the directions nor the actor could see each other. While the door fully blocked their view, one actor was replaced by another.

The researchers decided to even add some additional significant differences to the study. The “new actor” was a different height and build, and had noticably different hair and a different voice. Over half the participants did not notice the actor substitution.

This 1998 study was the first experiment to study the phenomenon of “change blindness”. The premise of the study was to show that we are selective about what our consciousness may take away as a memory from any given visual scene. The researchers concluded that individuals rely on memory and pattern-recognitions more than we think.

Does that give you any concern about how some evidence is relied upon in criminal trials, or is this just a select study that is just more about human nature than something as serious as a criminal trial?

DID YOU KNOW that the term “throw your hat in the ring” comes from the sport of boxing where throwing a hat into a ring signified a challenge. Today, it is now associated with politics. Although, I think that I have heard politicians also mention that they are now “taking off the gloves”.

And for pic o’ day how about some rebellion encouragement?


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