Witnesses and the Media: The Effect of Crime Re-Enactments on Eyewitness Recall 

Cullen, H. J. (University of Sydney), Paterson, H. M. (University of Sydney), van Golde, C. (University of Sydney) 

Crime re-enactments are commonly broadcast on television in order to encourage witnesses to provide information regarding unsolved cases. However, given that research has consistently shown that eyewitness memory can be altered through exposure to information after a crime, it is possible that crime re-enactments may (positively or negatively) influence the memory of eyewitnesses. Therefore, the current study examined the effects of crime re-enactment videos on eyewitness memory. In two studies, participants were shown a crime video and then one week later half of the participants viewed a crime re-enactment while the other half did not. All participants then completed a recall task that tested their memory for the original event. Across both studies, the results showed that exposure to the re-enactment did not facilitate eyewitness memory; instead, the re-enactment reduced memory accuracy for details in which the re-enactment was inconsistent with the original event. The findings shed light on potential disadvantages of using crime re-enactments to elicit eyewitness accounts. 

Twitter: @hayleycullen_ 

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Memory Research Symposium