Monday, July 11, 2016

Eyewitnesses' memories darken skin color

Public Release: 12-May-2016
Eyewitnesses' memories darken skin color
University of British Columbia

Eyewitnesses remember the faces of black suspects less accurately in drive-by shootings than they do in serial killings.

Their memories are further skewed when the victims are women or white males, psychology researchers at UBC's Okanagan campus have found.

"What this study shows is that the memory of an eyewitness is heavily influenced by the type of crime that was committed," says Prof. Paul Davies. "In crimes such as drive-by shootings, typically associated with black males, eyewitnesses overwhelmingly remembered the black suspect's face incorrectly.

"In crimes that were are more typically 'white', witnesses remembered the black suspect's faces with a high degree of accuracy."

In his study, four groups of participants were shown one of two staged videos with a black male leaving the scene of a multiple murder. One video was of a serial killing and the other was a drive-by shooting. The race and gender of the victims was shared with the members of some groups and not others.

[Serial killers are seen as typically "white" because the media generally only reports on the Caucasian one, ignoring African-American serial killers. The race of serial killers is percentage-wise in line with their percentage in the population.]


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