Describe and evaluate what research has shown about the effect of the age of witnesses on the accuracy of eyewitness testimony (12 marks) The accuracy of eye witness testimony, is supposedly quite poor, but there are many examples of convictions that have been made on EWT. Age has a large effect on eye witness testimony. Children give the most inaccurate EWT, and this was proved by a study by Poole and Lindsey. Their aim was to see if children were more likely to absorb post event information into their original memories. In the experiment they took children between the ages of three and eight years old to a science demonstration. Afterwards their parent read them a story which included new information and some elements from the science demonstration earlier that day. The results of this showed that the children mixed the two events. So in conclusion of the study, Children find it difficult to separate events that have happened in a day and are therefore and unreliable source of eye witness testimony.
If the children were asked to recall what somebody looked like who was involved in a crime, they could be framing the wrong person. For example, if they saw their neighbour earlier on that day, and then a bank robbery later on. When asked to describe the criminal in the bank robbery they could end up, by accident, describing their neighbour and framing the wrong person, giving false justice. The wrong person could end up being locked up for something they didn’t do and the real criminal could in fact still be wandering the streets, still committing crimes. Flin 1992 question both children and adults after an incident and then 5 months later. The study showed no differences between the amounts of accuracy after a single day, but showed a small amount of forgetting in children after a long period of time. This is important as long delays often occur between the time a crime happened and the actual conviction. Finally Anatastasi and Rhodes tested different age groups, and all age groups showed that when given photographs, they recognised people of their own age group better, all the factors explained above back up the statement of EWT being unreliable.