Wall Street Journal Explores Eyewitness Memory


“When Memory Commits an Injustice,” from Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, explores the limitations of human memory and how those limitations impact eyewitness identification evidence.

If memory flaws only affected our personal past, that would be bad enough. But the problems created by our mistaken recollections affect all of society. More than 75,000 prosecutions every year are based entirely on the recollections of others. While perjury is a felony, the overwhelming majority of eyewitness errors aren’t conscious or intentional. Rather, they’re the inevitable side effects of the remembering process.

The article cites a new study by Australian psychologist Neil Brewer that suggests witnesses who make quick assessments may be more reliable than those who deliberate.


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