- Change blindness blindness:
- Individuals’ exaggerated belief that they can detect visual changes and so avoid change blindness.
- Confirmation bias:
- Distortions of memory caused by the influence of expectations concerning what is likely to have happened.
- Cross-race effect:
- The finding that recognition memory for same-race faces is generally more accurate than for cross-race faces.
- Dud effect:
- An eyewitness’s increased confidence in his/her mistaken when the lineup includes individuals very dissimilar to the culprit.
- Inattentional blindness:
- The failure to perceive the appearance of an unexpected object in the visual environment.
- Own-age bias:
- the tendency for eyewitnesses to identify individuals of the same age as themselves for accurately than those much older or younger.
- A condition, also known as face-blindness, in which there is extremely poor face recognition combined with reasonable ability to recognize other objects.
- Unconscious transference:
- The tendency of eyewitnesses to misidentify a familiar (but innocent) face as belonging to the culprit.
- Verbal overshadowing:
- The reduction in recognition memory for faces that often occurs when eyewitnesses provide verbal descriptions of those faces before the recognition-memory test.
- Weapon focus:
- The finding that eyewitnesses have poor memory for details of a crime event because they focus their attention on the culprit’s weapon.
Research activity: should experts on eyewitness testimony be called to give evidence?
Imagine you have been given the task of deciding whether experts should be brought to the stand to talk about the weaknesses of eyewitness testimony in any case that involves this kind of evidence. Review the evidence and decide whether you are going to advocate eyewitness testimony experts being called or not. Why have you made this decision? Are there any circumstances where you would advocate a different response? What kind of things do you think the expert witness should bring to the jurors’ attention?
- Eyewitness: How accurate is visual memory? A CBS news article and video on flaws in eyewitness testimony that lead to wrong convictions.
- The Innocence Project: More details of the case of Charles Chatman.
- The invisible gorilla: Chabris and Simons’ website, includes the video used in their 1999 study.
- A demo that allows you to test yourself in the change-blindness paradigm.
- A video clip, with examples, about cognitive interviews.
- Berman, C. (2004).Welcome to my pages on prosopagnosia.
- The homepage of Elizabeth Loftus; includes links to articles by her and about her work on eyewitness memory.
- Elizabeth Loftus and Gary Wells discuss their research on eyewitness memory.
Please find below biographies of three important researchers in the field of memory: Ronald P. Fisher, D. Stephen Lindsay, and R. Edward Geiselman.
Ronald P. Fisher
Dr. Ronald Fisher was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1947. He earned a B.A. degree in Psychology from Queens College (1968), and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Experimental Psychology from The Ohio State University (1971, 1973). Shortly after completing his formal education, he worked as a post-doctoral fellow with F. Craik at the University of Toronto (1975–1977) and was a Visiting Scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles (1980–1983). He has been a member of the Psychology Department at Florida International University (FIU) since 1983 as Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor. During that time, he spent a sabbatical year at the University of Haifa, Israel (1990–1991) where he co-authored his book (with Ed Geiselman) on the Cognitive Interview (Fisher & Geiselman, 1992). He currently serves as the Chair of the Legal Psychology doctoral program at FIU.
Professor Fisher served on the U.S. Department of Justice committee (National Institute of Justice) to establish national guidelines for collecting eyewitness evidence (1998–1999). He has also served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied and Legal and Criminological Psychology. He was recognized for his research and teaching by the Professorial Excellence Program of FIU (1999) and was given the Prix Honorifique (2008) at the Third International Conference on Investigative Interviewing. His research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (US), the National Institute of Justice (US), the National Institutes of Health (US), the British Academy, the Australian Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council (UK), and the Ministry of Defence (UK).
Professor Fisher’s research career can be divided into three overlapping phases, marked by his initial theoretical interests in cognition (1973–1985), his work to develop the Cognitive Interview (1983–2005), and, most recently, his work to examine other cognitively based behaviors related to the law (1995–present).
The earliest phase of his career focused primarily on theoretical issues of cognition, ranging from issues of divided attention, retrieval operations in recall and recognition, and the relation between encoding and retrieval operations in memory. Much of this research revealed common underlying processes across mental tasks (e.g., encoding and retrieval; recognition and cued recall; classification and recognition). His theoretical interest in retrieval operations underlying memory formed the basis for the next stage of his research career: developing more effective retrieval cues to retrieve real-world recollections.
The middle phase of Professor Fisher’s career revolved around his work with colleague Ed Geiselman to develop the Cognitive Interview (CI) technique to enhance witness memory. This endeavor began simply as an effort to develop more efficient retrieval strategies for witnesses, but soon evolved into a more complex interviewing protocol that takes into account not only the witness’s cognitive processes but also those of the interviewer. Later revisions of the CI also incorporate a much wider range of cognitive principles in addition to principles of social psychology, and communication. Validity tests show that the CI elicits considerably more information than do conventional interview procedures (ca. 30%–50% increase) and at comparable levels of accuracy.
In the last few years, Professor Fisher has adapted the CI to a variety of investigative domains, and has conducted training programs on the CI with major law enforcement, military, scientific, and investigative agencies, (e.g., FBI, British Police, Israeli Air Force, NASA, National Transportation Safety Board).
In the last few years, Dr Fisher has expanded his research to examine other applications of cognitive psychology to the law. One such area of research is the relation between consistency and accuracy of eyewitness recall. Recent findings challenge some long-standing legal assumptions about the role of consistency in assessing the accuracy of eyewitness testimony. A second area of research examines the cognitive underpinnings of deception. This research has revealed several theory-driven techniques that can improve investigators’ abilities to discriminate between liars and truth-tellers.
One common element that marks Dr Fisher’s research career has been the excellent co-researchers he has worked with, including, among others: Gus Craik, (University of Toronto), Ed Geiselman (UCLA), Brian Cutler (FIU), Neil Brewer (Flinders University), and Aldert Vrij (University of Portsmouth). Life at home is also sweeter with an excellent partner (Eva Fisher). Working and living with talented, devoted, reliable, caring people is always more enjoyable and successful.
Fisher, R. P. & Craik, F. I. M. (1977). Interaction between encoding and retrieval operations in cued recall. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 3, 701–711.
Fisher, R. P. & Geiselman, R. E. (1992). Memory-enhancing techniques in investigative interviewing: The cognitive interview. Springfield, IL: C.C. Thomas.
Vrij, A., Fisher, R., Mann, S., & Leal, S. (2006). Detecting deception by manipulating cognitive load. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10, 141–142.
Fisher, R. P., Brewer, N., & Mitchell, G. (in press). Relation between consistency and accuracy of eyewitness testimony: Legal versus cognitive explanations. In T. Williamson, R. Bull, and T. Valentine (Eds.), Handbook of psychology of investigative interviewing: Current developments and future directions. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
D. Stephen Lindsay
D. Stephen Lindsay was born in Toronto, Canada, on May 6, 1958. Lindsay left Canada in 1967 and did most of his schooling in the US. He attended high schools in Utah, Nebraska, and Alaska, where he graduated from East Benson High School in 1976. A lackluster student in high school, he began postsecondary studies at Anchorage Community College, where he took some excellent psych classes from Ron Mosher. He transferred to Reed College, where in 1981 he completed an honors thesis on Piagetian conservation under the supervision of Carol Creedon.
Leaving Reed, Lindsay had no intention of pursuing further education, preferring to fish and carry lumber in Alaska, but a year later he accepted an invitation from Carol Creedon to return to Portland to do an independent research project in the summer of 1982. With Carol’s encouragement, he spent his evenings the following fall using his dad’s IBM Selectric typewriter to complete applications to grad schools.
He did a Masters degree with Susan Sugarman, then his doctoral work under the supervision of Marcia Johnson, both at Princeton University. Lindsay’s first post was at Williams College, a small liberal arts school in Massachusetts, where he struck up a collaboration with Colleen Kelley (who had just done a sabbatical with Larry Jacoby). He subsequently spent a fascinating year in Jacoby’s lab at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. In 1991 he left McMaster to take an Assistant Professorship at the University of Victoria, where he has remained except for a 2-year stint as Unilever Senior Research Fellow at the University of Wales, Bangor (1995–1997). He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1994 and to Professor in 1997.
Professor Lindsay received the American Psychological Association’s 1995 Young Investigator Award in Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. He served as Editor of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General from 2002 to 2007. He was honored by the University of Victoria's Faculty of Social Sciences’ Teaching Excellence Award (2006), and made a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science in 2005.
Steve Lindsay is best known for his contributions, in collaboration with Marcia Johnson, to the development of the “source-monitoring framework.” This is an evolving collection of ideas intended to explain how people attribute mental events (thoughts, images, feelings) to particular origins (e.g., memory, fantasy, inference) at varying degrees of specificity (e.g., a thought may simply be categorized as “a memory of something I once heard someone say” or as “a memory of what Moira said at the breakfast table yesterday morning”).
In terms of wider significance, Lindsay’s most important work is probably the 1994 article he and good friend Don Read wrote on the controversy regarding “recovered-memory experiences,” in which an individual comes to believe that s/he has recovered memories of a long-forgotten history of childhood sexual abuse. Their work on this topic helped convince clinicians that there are grounds for concern about highly suggestive approaches to trauma–memory-oriented psychotherapy, while helping critics of such therapies appreciate clinicians’ perspective on the debate. Lindsay has also applied the SM framework to a variety of other issues such as the eyewitness misinformation effect (suggestibility) in children and in adults, the relationship between confidence and accuracy in eyewitness suspect identifications, studies of how people judge whether or not they had previously recollected a particular past event, and the subjective experience of various kinds of reconstructive memory errors.
Lindsay, D. S. (2008). Source monitoring. In H. L. Roediger, III (Ed.) Cognitive psychology of memory. Vol. 2 of Learning and memory: A comprehensive reference (4 vols.) (J. Byrne, Editor) (pp. 325–347). Oxford: Elsevier.
Lindsay, D. S., Hagen, L., Read, J. D., Wade, K. A., & Garry, M. (2004). True photographs and false memories. Psychological Science, 15, 149–154.
Gruppuso, V., Lindsay, D. S., & Kelley, C. M. (1997). The process dissociation procedure and similarity: Defining and estimating recollection and familiarity in recognition memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 23, 2259–2278.
Lindsay, D. S., & Read, J. D. (1994). Psychotherapy and memories of childhood sexual abuse: A cognitive perspective. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 8, 281–338.
Lindsay, D. S. (1990). Misleading suggestions can impair eyewitnesses' ability to remember event details. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 16, 1077–1083.
R. Edward Geiselman
Born on May 12, 1949, Ralph Edward Geiselman, a Chicago Cubs fan, grew up in Culver, Indiana—a small town with fewer residents than there are psychology majors at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he is currently a Professor of Psychology. He earned his Bachelors degree from Purdue University in 1972 where he studied engineering and psychology. Subsequently, he earned both Masters and Ph.D. degrees from Ohio University in experimental psychology. He joined the faculty at UCLA, where he is now Professor, in 1979. He has published over 100 research papers in peer-reviewed social science journals and police science journals. He is the author of five books including The Psychology of Murder, Intersections of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Law (Volumes 1, 2, and 3), Eyewitness Expert Testimony, and Memory Enhancing Techniques for Investigative Interviewing: The Cognitive Interview. He received the LASD Mary Ellen McCormick Award in 2013.
Dr Geiselman served on the Los Angeles Superior Court Expert Witness Panel for 20 years (1991–2011), offering expert testimony in hundreds of criminal trials for both federal and state courts. He has served as a consultant to numerous federal, state, and local law-enforcement agencies including the FBI, Secret Service, Homeland Security, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles MTA, Chicago Multi-regional Training Center, and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. He also has conducted investigative interviews for local police departments on cold cases in several states.
Dr Geiselman, a member of the Florida Bar Association, has been honored with a British Academy Fellowship and the Ohio University Significant Achievement Award. He lives with his wife, Cindy, and their two children in Conejo Valley.
Dr Geiselman’s research centers on various aspects related to eyewitness testimony, including how eyewitnesses are interviewed and asked to identify suspects, how juries are instructed to handle the testimony, and how they go about deliberating verdicts. After realizing that police were given surprisingly little training in interviewing techniques for cooperative witnesses, he and Ronald P. Fisher, along with MacKinnon and Holland, developed the cognitive interview, which was aimed at extracting the greatest amount of reliable information from the memory of eyewitnesses.
This interviewing method has dramatically altered the way in which police interviews are conducted, emphasizing context reinstatement, the importance of retrieving any and all information—even if it seems insignificant, attempts to recall the event in several orders and from different viewpoints. In 1987, Fisher and Geiselman, along with their colleagues, enhanced the cognitive interview, with additional suggestions to minimize distractions and anxiety, encouraging the witness to speak slowly, with a pause between responses and the next question, and an interpretive comment following each response that avoids judgmental and personal remarks. Geiselman et al. went on to test the cognitive interview against other techniques, including hypnosis, finding that the cognitive interview yielded the most veridical statements fro witnesses.
Geiselman, R. E., Fisher, R. P., MacKinnon, D. P., & Holland, H. L. (1985). Eyewitness memory enhancement in the police interview: Cognitive retrieval mnemonics versus hypnosis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 70, 401–412.
Fisher, R. P., & Geiselman, R. E. (1992). Memory enhancement techniques for investigative interviews: The cognitive interview. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas Publishers.
Geiselman, R. E. (1994). Providing eyewitness expert testimony in Los Angeles. Expert Evidence, 3, 9–15.
Geiselman, R. E. & Fisher, R. P. (1997). Ten years of cognitive interviewing. In D. Payne & F. Conrad (Eds.), Intersections in basic and applied memory research (pp. 291–310). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum.
Geiselman, R. E., Schroppel, T., Tubridy, A., Konishi, T., & Rodriguez, V. (2000). Objectivity bias in eyewitness performance. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 14, 323–332.
Geiselman, R. E., Putman, C., Korte, R., & Jachimowicz, G. (2002). Eyewitness expert testimony and juror decisions. American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 20, 1–16.
Geiselman, R. E., Keesler, M., Emrani, M., & Yu, J. (2008). Juror verdict predicted from a four-item voir-dire question battery. American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 29, 1–14.