Psychology of Eyewitness Testimony
Full course description
This course provides contemporary insights into the psychology of eyewitness testimony. For example, students will learn about how well eyewitnesses are able to recall the offence they experienced, and whether they are subsequently able to identify the culprit from a line-up. Students will also learn about human face recognition, the principles underlying composite construction, and the best practices in constructing and administering line-ups. Other issues that are addressed in this course relate to whether claims of repression and subsequent recovery of traumatic experiences can be valid or whether they (sometimes) reflect false memories, whether the testimonies provided by young children are as reliable as those of adults are, and what all of the studied topics imply for the courtroom.
By the end of the course students will: be familiar with current issues and controversies in eyewitness research; be able to give descriptions of typical methods and experimental work in these disciplines; and have insight into the problems that arise from court decisions which hinge upon testimonies from eyewitness.
- students are able to apply theories on memory to cases on the reliability of testimonies;
- students are able to recognize important research methods and paradigms in legal psychology;
- students are able to recognize important factors related to the reliability of eyewitness memory (e.g., co-witness effects, cognitive interview);
- students are able to assess the reliability of eyewitnesses’ testimony in a given case;
- students are able to discuss relevant theories and link it to legal cases;
- students are able to recognize and discuss controversies in the psychology of testimony (e.g., repression);
students are able to design research studies by using the studied research paradigms and methodology.