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The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context

On-line version ISSN 1989-4007Print version ISSN 1889-1861


OEBERST, Aileen. How good are future lawyers in judging the accuracy of reminiscent details?: the estimation-observation gap in real eyewitness accounts. The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context [online]. 2015, vol.7, n.2, pp.73-79. ISSN 1989-4007.

Research has shown a discrepancy between estimated and actually observed accuracy of reminiscent details in eyewitness accounts. This estimation-observation gap is of particular relevance with regard to the evaluation of eyewitnesses' accounts in the legal context. To date it has only been demonstrated in non-naturalistic settings, however. In addition, it is not known whether this gap extends to other tasks routinely employed in real-world trials, for instance person-identification tasks. In this study, law students witnessed a staged event and were asked to either recall the event and perform a person identification task or estimate the accuracy of the others' performance. Additionally, external estimations were obtained from students who had not witnessed the event, but received a written summary instead. The estimation-observation gap was replicated for reminiscent details under naturalistic encoding conditions. This gap was more pronounced when compared to forgotten details, but not significantly so when compared to consistent details. In contrast, accuracy on the person-identification task was not consistently underestimated. The results are discussed in light of their implications for real-world trials and future research.

Keywords : Eyewitness memory; Reminiscence; Implicit theories; Credibility; Judgment.

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