How To Improve Eyewitness Testimony

Wired:

My latest Head Case column in the WSJ explores a forthcoming Psychological Science paper by Neil Brewer (not online yet) that shows how the flawed memories of eyewitnesses might be improved:

The biggest lie of human memory is that it feels true. Although our recollections seem like literal snapshots of the past, they’re actually deeply flawed reconstructions, a set of stories constantly undergoing rewrites.

Consider our collective memories of 9/11. For the last 10 years, researchers led by William Hirst of the New School and Elizabeth Phelps of New York University have been tracking the steady decay of what people recall about that tragic event. They first quizzed people shortly after the attacks, then after one year, and found that 37% of the details had already changed. Although the most recent data have yet to be published, they’re expected to reveal that the vast majority of remembered “facts” are now make-believe.

Read the whole story: Wired

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