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Memory Impacting Memories

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PSY-102                                                                                          Pg.1

Frederick Yohannes

June 27, 2019,

Dr. Tanya Rios

             Memory impacting memories

        Memory is a cognitive feature of our brain that we regularly take for granted. Memory can have many purposes, however most importantly it is actually a document of our whole existence. From this perspective memory is the most vital aspect of consciousness. Unfortunately, through formal experimentation it has been shown that our recollections are inaccurate, inconsistent, and often influenced by way of our own experiences as properly as the bias of others. Memory can be affected at the time of an observed event, however there are situations that cause influence after an incident as well. There are additional instances when memory can be impacted retroactively due to our own assumptions. Inaccurately recalling the recollections of our past is generally not adverse, however defects in our short and long-term memory operations cause serious issues in regard to criminal eyewitness testimony. 

 In the judicial system eyewitness testimonials are authentic and can


be important in the judging process. The judicial system was once constructed to depend on testimony that is periodically unreliable and inconstant in many ways. The manner in which recollections are constructed lends itself to inaccuracies. According to the constructive approach to memory, what people recollect  is not solely based on what really happened, while including other components such as prior experiences expectations and knowledge. (Goldstein, 2011, p. 249). This is concerning due to the fact that eyewitness testimony is the basis of most criminal trials. The case of Mark Diaz Bravo is an instance of how false testimony can wreck an innocent persons’ life, but how eyewitness mistake can lead to wrongful conviction and imprisonment of an innocent person. Mr. Bravo was charged with raping a psychiatric patient he was caring for at a clinic in Los Angeles County. He convicted to eight years in jail after eyewitness testimony. After four long years of incarceration and fighting for his innocence it was determined that neither his or the victim's DNA was located at the crime scene. Mr. Bravo was wrongfully


convicted due to inaccurate eyewitness testimony.

        In our previously mentioned case there are numerous moments where the witness may have recalled an inaccurate memory. Eyewitness inaccuracies can take place during short and long-term memory functions. The witness can be influenced in numerous ways based on the constructive memory approach. The witness may have been attacked previously by a Hispanic man causing inaccuracies based on bias or prejudice.  When an eyewitness takes the stand for testimony there are numerous things that may impair their recollection of prior events. According to the constructive memory theory, it may become increasingly inaccurate over time. The eyewitness may recall an event in general, but after time distinct details will usually be forgotten (Hudson, 1990, p. 180).  Unfortunately, inaccurate memory recall is not the only adversity being faced by those who are experiencing wrongful conviction. This in conjunction with other circumstantial evidence put Mr. Bavaro in a position to lose. Although we have no proof of this taking place at his trial there is a possibility of misinformation effect


leading to his wrongful conviction. The misinformation effect has been proven in numerous experiments to be applicable and in cases like Mr. Bravo’s it can be detrimental. The misinformation effect involves the presentation of deceptive and non-factual information to an eyewitness after an event that can alter the eyewitness’s perceived recollection of what honestly occurred. This deceptive information, formally referred to as misleading post event information, has been demonstrated in experiments like the Loftus traffic accident experiment to generate false eyewitness memories (Goldstein, 2011, p. 261).  
The test carried out by Elizabeth Loftus was simple, but had substantial results. Loftus displayed several videos of car crashes to a group then the participants were asked questions about the films they just observed. Loftus was able to demonstrate that structuring questions with influential wording and particular manner she was able to evoke responses that did not reflect what was observed in the films.  Loftus was capable of presenting misleading post event information that can shape eyewitness



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