Why are eye witness accounts so often wrong?  How do our perceptions shade how we see “the facts”

There are many ways in which memories such as eye witness accounts can be altered. One such phenomenon is known as “false-memory syndrome.” (Ciccarelli 243) This occurs when suggested information is plugged into a partial memory resulting in a false memory. The passage of time seems to decay memories as well. (Ciccarelli 240) “Flashbulb memories” which tend to be major emotional events in one’s life, seem vivid and intact, but are in fact just as susceptible to revisions or alterations as other memories. The “misinformation effect” may also alter eye witness accounts. This occurs when “misleading information van become part of the actual memory affecting its accuracy.” (Loftus et al., 1978) There are, however, qualifications for these changes to memories. The suggested, or perhaps false, information being inserted to the witness’s memories must be plausible. (Ciccarelli 244) Therefore, if the witness perceives the suggested change to their account to be plausible and consistent with their memory, they are more likely to alter the way they “see the facts.” Consequently, their eye witness account could be deemed unreliable.

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