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Potential Weaknesses of Eyewitness Testimony

December 1, 2010

Psychology expert witness Dr. Sam Sommers recently completed a series of blog posts entitled “More than Meets the Eye”.  In his series, Dr. Sommers recounts a recent case experience where opposing eyewitnesses increased their confidence levels in their assertions between the time of the alleged crime and the trial.

 

Dr. Sommers draws on this experience to discuss the general weakness of eyewitness testimony.  He notes that memory and eyewitness accounts are impressionable.  A person’s memory often contains gaps which the witness may fill in with “expectation, assumption and information … learned later on”.  Additionally, interactions with police, other witnesses, media or even the defendant may influence the eyewitness’ opinions or confidence levels.

 

This case serves as a reminder that attorneys and psychology experts should be mindful of these potential eyewitness weaknesses.  To learn more, read the entire series by clicking on the links included below.

 

Sam Sommers, Ph.D., is an associate professor of psychology and researcher of social psychology at Tufts University.  He has testified on multiple cases involving racial bias, photo array issues and eyewitness memory.  To read the original article, click here for parts I, II and III:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-small-talk/201010/more-meets-the-eye-part-i

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-small-talk/201010/more-meets-the-eye-part-ii

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-small-talk/201011/more-meets-the-eye-part-iii.

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