Eye Witness Account Means Little

The British Psychological Society issued a report on memory research and what it means for the legal profession.

Below are their key points:

i. Memories are records of people’s experiences of events and are not a record of the events themselves.

ii. Memory is not only of experienced events but it is also of the knowledge of a person’s life.

iii. Remembering is a constructive process.

iv. Memories for experienced events are always incomplete.

v. Memories typically contain only a few highly specific details.

vi. Recall of a single or several highly specific details does not guarantee that a memory is accurate or even that it actually occurred.

vii. The content of memories arises from an individual’s comprehension of an experience, both conscious and non-conscious.

viii. People can remember events that they have not in reality experienced.

ix. Memories for traumatic experiences, childhood events, interview and identification practices, memory in younger children and older adults and other vulnerable groups all have special features.

x. A memory expert is a person who is recognised by the memory research community to be a memory researcher.

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