If Anything Else Comes to Mind … Better Keep it to Yourself? Delayed Recall is Discrediting – Unjustifiably
January 12, 2010
Inconsistencies in eyewitness accounts are deemed to be indicative of inaccuracy and hence reduce the witnesses’ credibility. The rather undifferentiated use of the term of inconsistencies also includes reminiscence, that is, the delayed recall of previously not recalled information. Even though it may not necessarily imply the falsity of the statements, reminiscence is counterintuitive and its reliable occurrence mostly unknown. Two studies are reported that contrast estimated and empirically-observed accuracy of reminiscent items after retention intervals of up to one week. Delayed recall of previously not mentioned details was indeed expected to be rather unreliable. Actual accuracy, however, was consistently high and even comparable to immediate recollections as well as to the accuracy of consistent and forgotten items. Although accuracy was generally underestimated, such discrepancy that exists between estimations and observations was most pronounced for reminiscent details. The findings are discussed within the context of contemporary legal practice such as jury instructions.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 56
Keywords: eyewitness memory, reminiscence, implicit theories, credibility, judgment
JEL Classification: K14working papers series
Date posted: January 13, 2010 ; Last revised: December 6, 2010
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