Cognitive Science and the law Essay

Submitted By shellyw34
Words: 1256
Pages: 6

Reaction paper to Cognitive science and the law

If someone has seen a crime taken place, and they are either the victim, or a witness; then that person would be under pressure by authorities to remember what has taken place in order for a case to be resolved. This article was interesting to me in that I did not know all that took place when doing an investigation when the police are trying to identify a criminal involving a crime that had just been committed. This article reminds me of what we have been reading in the book concerning short term, and working memory and that a person can only remember so much if they do not work at keeping it in their minds.
Scientist are trying to use cognitive science to relate with human perception, memory, and decision making when dealing with people who have been a witness to a crime. They are trying to point out that people cannot remember certain things that have occurred especially when under pressure by other people like the police, lawyers, and other authority figures who want to solve a case. Busey and Loftus (2007) state “that many factors influence the ability of an eyewitness to perceive and encode the perpetrator’s appearance (e.g. viewing time, lighting, conditions and degree of focused attention)”. One thing that comes to my mind when reading this article is that I love watching Law and Order this is the perfect match that I can relate to when trying to figure out what law authority figures will do to find answers to a case that has little to no clues. They always have a lineup of criminals, and the witness, or victim will stand there confused, and pointing out who the person is that they think did the crime. Sometimes it works and other times it does not work, and they have to resort to another way of finding the criminal. Identifying a person is always the first thing that will take place when a crime has been committed. Busey and Loftus talk about how people have been wrongly accused of a crime that they did not commit, and sent to jail over it with their lives ruined. This brings up the question if eyewitness testimony can really be as accurate as they say it is.
Reed speaks on pattern recognition, and if people can really perceive objects in an accurate way. Reed (2010 p. 18) “pattern recognition is primarily the study of how people identify the objects in their environment”. Pattern recognition can be a tricky subject for the human mind; because a person can see one thing, and it can turn out to be something totally different. If you look at how a person can talk about having a different perception during and after an event occurs then this could show how the study could be on the right track. I am thinking that what Reed spoke of in the book could be true to the fact that sometimes we cannot distinguish people of another race, or gender that easily if we are not familiar with them. Reed (2010 p. 25) “we particularly have trouble distinguishing among faces of an ethnic category that is different from our own”.
The article focuses on when testifying at a trial; the witness believes that they are basing their confident identification of the defendant on a memory that was formed at the time of the original event, whereas they are actually basing it on their reconstructed memory that was formed at the time of the identification procedure. This does show that a person who is under pressure by other people can have a different perspective on what they saw at the time of the crime, and what they see later during something like a lineup. The article talks about how identification procedures can be distorted with post event information and how