Effect of the Time of Recollection (Minutes) on the Accuracy of Eyewitness Testimony (%) in a Fourth-Degree Burglary
Rhea Sunderji
Stratford Hall
Floor Location : J 116 F

Eyewitness testimonies are commonly relied upon by attorney’s due to their impact on juries; however, they are also associated with many false convictions due to their vulnerability to many psychological factors. In fact, through DNA testing over 358 1970-1980 convictions were overturned; 70% of which heavily relied upon eyewitness testimonies. This experiment aimed to determine the impact of time between witnessing a fourth-degree burglary and recalling the event on the accuracy of the testimony. Based on the results, the exact weight which the eyewitness testimonies should hold in a fourth-degree burglary case conviction was determined. The weight which the testimony should hold is equivalent to the percentage accuracy of the memory itself. The methodology consisted of sampling everyone within the population of interest of 18 Grade 8 students (9 females, 9 males) at Stratford Hall IB World School. The population of interest was exposed to a simulated fourth-degree burglary under a controlled environment and then received identical longitudinal trend surveys based on specific recollection times (Group A: 4.6 minutes, Group B: 9.1 minutes, and Group C: 13.3 minutes). Random sampling was used to determine which individuals were associated with each recollection time. Upon completion, each survey was given a mark out of four using a four-point Likert scale, which was later converted into a percentage. The percentage was representative of the memory accuracy of the stimulated fourth-degree burglary. The results concluded that Group C had the least accurate eyewitness testimony, whereas Group A had the most accurate testimony. The difference between the average percentage accuracy of Group B and C was 5% while the difference between average percentage accuracy of Group A and B was 7.5%, supporting that as the time of recollection increases, the percentage accuracy of the eyewitness testimony overall decreases and demonstrates that the independent and dependent variable have an inversely proportional relationship. Furthermore, as the time of recollection increased, the percentage by which the average accuracy of the testimony fluctuated decreased. This along with the trend suggested by the results of the experiment align in accordance with an exponential equation. The exponential decay equation derived from the results is y=49.7e^-0.145x. The regression predictions almost fit the data perfectly as the r^2 value of the exponential equation is 0.995. As such, this equation can be used with statistical confidence, to predict the percentage of accuracy which an eyewitness testimony from an individual within the population of interest should hold in a fourth-degree burglary. The results demonstrate that as the time of recollection increases the accuracy of the eyewitness testimony’s decreases due to transcience and differences within memory storage capacity. Furthermore, the results indicate additional investigation is required to conclude definitively on the influence of encoding failure and the misinformation effect on the accuracy of memory.