Valerie F. Reyna (Cornell; left) and Stephen D. Penrod (John Jay College; middle), this year’s presenters at the Psychological Science in the Public Interest (PSPI) symposium, sit with symposium chair, APS President, and PSPI co-editor Morton Ann Gernsbacher (University of Wisconsin; right).
Penrod discussed the 2006 PSPI report (written with coauthors Gary L. Wells and Amina Memon), “Eyewitness Evidence: Improving Its Probative Value.” Hundreds of people have been wrongly convicted due to mistaken eyewitnesses, Penrod said. He discussed the various factors contributing to unreliable eyewitness testimony and the ways its reliability could be improved through new methods of interviewing witnesses and conducting police lineups.
Next, Reyna presented the results of her 2006 report (co-written with Frank Farley), “Risk and Rationality in Adolescent Decision Making: Implications for Theory, Practice, and Public Policy,” on the counterintuitive “rationality” of young decision makers. Young peo-ple don’t think they’re immortal, Reyna said; they know the dangers of drugs, unsafe sex, etc. But unlike adults, who intuitively grasp that certain risks are just not worth considering, adolescents’ young brains rationally weigh odds and often, as a result, make choices that put them in harm’s way