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Title: The emotional eyewitness : an investigation into the effects of anger on eyewitness recall and recognition performance
Author: Houston, Kate Alexandra
ISNI:       0000 0004 2709 7754
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2010
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The present thesis examined the effects of anger on the completeness and accuracy of eyewitness free and cued recall and recognition performance. Anger was revealed by a recent survey as the emotion experienced by the majority of eyewitnesses to crime, so is particularly important in this context. Previous literature has tended to use generic concepts such as ‘emotion’ or ‘stress’ to investigate emotion effects, but this thesis sought to examine the effect of the specific emotion of anger on memory. Experiment 1 tested theoretical predictions regarding the effects of anger on encoding and retrieval processes. In line with these predictions, angry participants provide more complete descriptions of a perpetrator compared to neutral participants. However, angry participants provide less complete descriptions of the perpetrator’s actions than their neutral counterparts. This pattern of results was replicated throughout all experiments in this thesis. Experiment 2 revealed that anger has no effect on the completeness and accuracy of victim descriptions. Experiment 3 found that the pattern of anger effects observed for a younger adult sample were also found when older adults were tested. This prompted a statistical comparison of younger and older adults which found very few age effects and no interactions between age of the participant, experience of anger and the category of detail recalled. The final experiment thoroughly investigated the effects of anger on participants’ ability to recognise the perpetrator from a photographic lineup. The main findings of this thesis suggest that while angry eyewitnesses may be able to provide a more complete description of the perpetrator, they may be less able to describe what he did, and less able to accurately recognise him from a lineup than neutral eyewitnesses. These findings are discussed in terms of cognitive and meta-cognitive models of encoding and retrieval.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Witnesses ; Eyewitness identification ; Anger