Forensic psychology
Forensic psychology

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Forensic psychology

1.1 Knowing your own mind

Research has found that showing a witness a line-up and asking them, ‘Who is it?’, tends to make the witness select someone, even if they’re unsure whether it’s the person who did commit the crime.

The video which you watched in the previous section demonstrates that changing the way a question is asked can have a dramatic effect on the answer and can help reduce the rate of mistaken identifications dramatically. For example, including an instruction such as, ‘The person you saw commit the crime may or may not be present in the line-up, and if you don’t think they’re present, you should say so’, can remove the suggestion that the person definitely is in the line-up. It also removes the suggestion that the witness has to choose someone.

You might be surprised to learn that making such a minor change to an instruction can have such a dramatic effect on memory and decision making. In fact, the way our memories actually work is quite different to how most people imagine. Psychologists refer to our knowledge of how our minds work as ‘metacognition’, and of how memory works as ‘meta memory’.

Next, you will be quizzed on your understanding of how your mind works.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371