Master of Arts (MA)
When witnesses are exposed to highly stressful and emotional events, the result is often increased arousal and a change in the pattern of attention. Both of these factors are likely to impact witnesses’ memory for the event. In addition, witnesses are often exposed to post-event information from a variety of sources (e.g., investigators, other witnesses, media reports). The goal of the present study was to explore, in the context of the eyewitness suggestibility paradigm, the impact of emotional arousal and attentional focus on event memory and the incidence of eyewitness suggestibility. A secondary goal of this study was to explore the possible relationship between emotional arousal and individual differences in people’s experience of, and reaction to, this arousal (Affect Intensity). The results revealed that emotional manipulation had an impact on subjects’ memory for the event; emotion Ss recognized more event only items but only in the arousal phase of the slide sequence. The result also indicated that emotion Ss were more likely to misattribute post-event information to the event than were the neutral event subjects. Finally, the results showed that the magnitude of the suggestibility effect was significantly larger for emotional event subjects. The present study provides some empirical support that emotional arousal can have both positive and negative consequences on memory for the event. There was no support for the role of attentional focus and personality dimension of affect intensity on eyewitness performance.
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Roussel, Cristine Carmen, "The effect of emotion on witness suggestibility" (2005). LSU Master's Theses. 1634.