05 Jun
16:00

PhD Defence Yikang Zhang

Supervisors: Prof. dr. Henry Otgaar, Prof. dr. Marko Jelicic

Co-supervisor: Dr. Jianqin Wang

Keywords: Memory distrust, recollection, autobiographical belief, non-believed memory
 

"Make-believe: The Role of Memory Distrust in the Memory Validation Process"

The current thesis investigated the role of memory distrust in the memory validation process. That is, how does our view of our own memory functioning influence our beliefs about the occurrence of past events. Across chapters, the thesis showed that people who are more distrustful towards their memory functioning are less likely to decide on what has happened in the past based on their recollections. Further, when confronted with the possibility that their memories are incorrect, memory distrusters are less likely to invest efforts to verify their memories and more readily to accept the accounts of others. In many situations, the changes in beliefs can be inconsequential. However, in forensic settings where a complete and accurate memory report is crucial, memory-reporting errors could lead to severe consequences. In fact, research has shown that faulty eyewitness identification/testimony is involved in 64% of wrongful convictions. High−distrust witnesses might be more likely to be influenced by their discussions with co-witnesses or the questions from the interviewers, which in many cases can be suggestive. Therefore, accurately assessing eyewitnesses’ memory distrust level by expert witnesses could be proven useful in eyewitness statement validity assessments.

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