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Lying as a witness

In the article "Detection of lies in the study of NOF" we touched on what options distortion of the events of their witnesses may meet in the study of NOF. Here we consider various psychological effects, influencing a witness and his testimony.

One of the most known effects is "inattention blindness". Its essence consists in the following: often people may not notice even a very vivid and significant detail, which is literally "under the nose" if he's distracted on some other task (for example, trying to consider, to count, to remember, to learn). And the more important a person thinks his object of distraction, so it is more "blind" to other parts. As an example we can remember the children's riddle based on distraction: "At the final stop the bus sat for fourteen men and two women. At the first stop was down two men and two women entered. At the next stop went almost all the men (only three left), and the next five women. After a kilometre, the bus stopped, and it included another man. How many stops on the bus route?" If you did not previously know that you need to consider stopping (and there are only three), the emphasis is on common variables – the number of men and women. To answer the final question in this case is often impossible.

The following effect, "overloading attention", something similar to the previous one. It is based on the peculiarity of human memory, able to focus and analyze only a small number of items at a time. As example, a simple problem: "Two workers unload two cars in two days. How many cars will unload 6 work in 6 days?". When solving it on paper it seems simple, but the solution in my mind causes a problem because the amount of data that you need to keep in mind for its decision, exceeds the capacity of working memory, making it impossible for a logical conclusion. Thus, small amounts of seemingly simple information cause confusion and difficulties of its perception and analysis.

Effect "delay of attention" is based on the fact that the human mind is able to hold the attention to some event, only about 10 minutes, then he begins to be distracted by other events and details around. Thus, over time to keep attention and retain information becomes more difficult. Anyone who listened to long lectures, surely the sign of this effect.

One of the important issue of effects is "the substitution of memories", which is that when mental or oral presentation of events, the recollection of it changes the neural pathways are activated each time differently. As a result, people influenced by their own opinions and fantasies, as well as new knowledge gained after the incident, remembers not what he really saw and felt, but a completely new event-driven design. For example, leading questions can "force" the witness to "remember" details that were not available at the moment of observation.

The previous effect can be attributed to the substitution memories, caused by strong emotions or in anticipation of events.

Option effect of the substitution of memories is a "false memory". When developing the person themselves or by imposing external information may eventually "remember" the event, which had no place in reality and believe in this memory. A psychologist from the University of Washington Elizabeth Loftus have described an experiment to create false memories in a 1997 article for Scientific American magazine: "When during the first conversation one of the participants asked about this annoying incident at the wedding, he replied: "I don't understand what you're saying. Never before have not heard about it". However, in the second conversation, he already said in another way: "the Wedding was outdoors. We were busy, so maybe I could someone to accidentally hurt and spill a glass of punch or with something else. Yes, I made a big mistake. And then yelled at me".


The above effects affects all people. The probability that they will occur, depends on the emotional and physical condition of the witness during the event and after it, and in the survey. Thus, due to differences in the perception of reality, the testimony of people about the same incident can greatly vary. And as for perception, memory and recall of details of events affects a lot of factors, implicitly trust the testimony of the witnesses is not necessary, only can be used as additional information for material evidences (photos, videos, etc.), which should form the basis of the evidence of any investigation.


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Translated by «Yandex.Translator»

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