The Validity of Eye-witnesses, According to the APA

“…memory is malleable and…’it erodes over time, which further complicates witness testimony.'”

By Matt Johnson, The Systems Scientist

According to the American Psychological Association, eye-witnesses are wrong approximately 33 percent of the time. This is a striking statistic with important implications for the criminal justice system and for how it is applied at the local, county, state, and federal levels. But it’s not just how often eye-witnesses are wrong. It is much more complicated than that.

As Norman B. Anderson, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of the American Psychological Association, will explain in this short video, juries tend to give too much credit to eye-witness testimony. In addition, memory is malleable as this publication explained in the recent article The Eye-Witness Test: Are you sure you saw that? and

it erodes over time, which further complicates witness retestimony.

In addition, eye-witnesses may experience stress during the act of a crime and of course eye-witnesses bring with them a package of biases, which includes racial perceptions. All of these factors complicate what the eye-witnesses are seeing.

Here is Norman B. Anderson, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of the American Psychological Association.

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