Memories are malleable with several different variables that change the biases of memories. Memories vary with different factors that contribute to the outcome of a memory. Certain defaults such as age, gender, cultures, and languages can alter how an individual remembers an event. Additionally, people often adopt other people’s memories whilst listening to another person’s point of view. This occurs often between eyewitnesses even when experiencing the same event at the same time. The different factors ultimately create changed memories, and with informational influence, witnesses can change a report due to the lack of confidence felt about own memories. Memories are active constructing and reconstructing of different information often susceptible by social influences (Williamson, Weber, & Roberston, 2013). People often hear mistaken information and unconsciously retrieve that faulty information as new memories.
Human memories are highly malleable and are easily changeable (Meena & Kumari, 2018). Human memories are created by newly processed information mixed with previously stored information (Meena & Kumari, 2018). This creates pseudo memories that are recognized as artificial memories. False memorization is easily reformed due to differing factors. One major factor in changing or creating false memories is listening to other people’s memories and unconsciously assuming that this new information is own’s true memory. During eyewitness reports, eyewitnesses will opt to take each other’s memories and create as own. Assuming that new information is a true memory causes many reports to be false and filled with wrong information creating non-accurate reports (Williamson, Weber, & Roberston, 2013). For example, if two people were involved in a crime scene and are meant to give helpful information to police, the two eyewitnesses should be separated to lower the chances of information influence. Eyewitnesses will often share information and prefer to use another’s information. This is especially seen in eyewitnesses that trust a witness with an image of being a more credible source (Williamson, Weber, & Roberston, 2013). Informational influence is responsible for making errors in memories and co-witnesses reports.
True memories are mental images that are stored in the visual cortex however, memories can be created by receiving new information through listening which is why false memories occur frequently within eyewitnesses. Recent neurophysiology studies have found that true memories are stored within the visual cortex while false memories are more active in the auditory cortex (Meena & Kumari, 2018). Neurophysiology studies found how vulnerable eyewitnesses are and how easily witnesses acquire false information without attaining knowledge of false memories. In hopes of lowering false eyewitness reports, eyewitnesses need to wait separately to be interviewed, should not share information, and should be questioned as soon as the event occurred due to higher likelihoods of memories altering over time.
Misinformation is also highly seen within witnesses due to the use of simple word suggestions. Suggestive words can determine how a witness remembers a car accident. For example, if a police officer uses the words “car hit” then the witness will report the accident as a bump but, if the police officer decides to use the words “car smashed into” the witness is more likely to remember the accident as a serious car crash (Meena & Kumari, 2018). Therefore, police officers should use the same language when filling out reports and be aware of the stature in which the reports are given. On top of that, different languages also affect word usage and can create false memories due to differences in which languages use agentive words. For example, native Spanish speakers use “Se” which translates to oneself or itself, therefore, when bilingual participants translated the following statement, “tore the bodice”, the bilingual participants stated that “the bodice tore” (Fuasey & Boroditsky, 2010). In this study using both bilingual speakers and English speakers, 53% of agentive readers were more willing to convict the plausible suspects than the non-agentive statements. Therefore, the agentive statements read by English speaker made these participants convict suspects more times than the non-agentive Spanish speakers (Fausey & Boroditsky, 2010). Additionally, the English speakers were more likely to find the suspects higher than the bilingual participants (Fausey & Boroditsky, 2010). Agentive and non-agentive statements change the perspectives that eyewitnesses hold and conform to different eyewitnesses’ views of experiences. Usage of different words could also be used when trying to manipulate cases. This also leads to false confessions that create wrongful convictions of suspects.
Due to memories being fragile and easily changeable this becomes a dangerous and unfair usage of power which unfortunately has also been seen throughout experts. Psychologists and police officers have been caught manipulating eyewitnesses to change the outcome of cases therefore, all judges and jurors need to become aware during testimonies given in courts. Further education should be allowed within the courts to adhere to each case before a trial begins. This could lower the chances of wrongful convictions and allow for better credible sources as evidence. Eyewitness testimonies are not reliable enough to act as a main source of evidence. Since there is often no conscious knowledge of wrong information being used, eyewitnesses testimonies are risks taken within the justice system that create further issues.