Forensic psychology
Forensic psychology

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Forensic psychology

Week 2: Initial statements


Welcome to Week 2. Watch the following video in which Catriona and Graham introduce the week.

Download this video clip.Video player: ou_futurelearn_psychology_vid_1042.mp4
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Welcome to week 2.
Last week we had a look at how fallible our memories can be, and how the outcome of an identity parade, can be dependent upon the information the witness is fed. This week we are going to look at how witnesses provide different types of information. As you'll see, eyewitnesses often find remembering certain aspects of a crime, much harder than others. The duration, lighting and distance from the crime can all affect the memory of a witness, and you'll see that the type of person we are can also affect the accuracy of the information we provide.
We'll also discover the impact that talking to another witness can have on our memory of an event.
Then we'll hear our detectives take their initial statements. DS Sund and DI Bullet have quite different styles of investigation, which will not only lead to them to uncovering different information, but also forming quite different views about what happened, and how. There's also a chance to evaluate their evidence and start forming your own conclusions. See you next week.
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Before you hear the initial evidence provided by our two eyewitnesses, you will explore some psychological knowledge concerning how accurately eyewitnesses provide different types of information.

Last week you saw that the outcome of an identity parade can be dependent upon the specific wording of the question that is asked of the witness. Simply asking ‘Who is it?’ can imply that the perpetrator is definitely present in the parade and, therefore, that the witness should select someone. The question asked of a witness is an example of a system variable, as it is under the control of the police.

However, there are also estimator variables, not under the control of the police, that are important to be aware of when evaluating witness evidence. Even if you cannot control for how long the witness saw the perpetrator, for example, it is still important to know what affect this might have on the accuracy of their memory.

Knowledge concerning the impact that estimator variables have on eyewitness testimony will be important when you come to evaluate the evidence provided by our two eyewitnesses.


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