Accuracy, completeness, and consistency of emotional memories

T. Smeets, I. Candel, H. Merckelbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Judges and lawyers often consider inconsistent testimonies to be inaccurate. We addressed this assumption by asking undergraduate students on 2 occasions to write detailed accounts of violent movie fragments they had seen. These accounts were evaluated in terms of accuracy, completeness, and consistency. Experiment 1 showed that accounts tended to be accurate. Moreover, first accounts were marginally more complete than second accounts. The number of inconsistencies between the 2 accounts was not significantly related to their accuracy. Experiment 2 sought to replicate these findings using a more emotionally upsetting movie fragment. Results were highly similar to those of Experiment 1 in that accounts tended to be accurate but incomplete. Inconsistencies were not significantly related to the accuracy of participants' accounts. In line with previous research, we found that accounts of emotional events can be highly accurate but tend to be incomplete. More importantly, inconsistencies cannot be seen as valid predictors of testimonial inaccuracy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-609
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychology
Volume117
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

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