Research Output

Chatting in the face of the eyewitness: the impact of extraneous cell-phone conversation on memory for a perpetrator

  Cell-phone conversation is ubiquitous within public spaces. The current study investigates whether ignored cell-phone conversation impairs eyewitness memory for a perpetrator. Participants viewed a video of a staged crime in the presence of 1 side of a comprehensible cell-phone conversation (meaningful halfalogue), 2 sides of a comprehensible cell-phone conversation (meaningful dialogue), 1 side of an incomprehensible cell-phone conversation (meaningless halfalogue), or quiet. Between 24 and 28 hr later, participants freely described the perpetrator's face, constructed a single composite image of the perpetrator from memory, and attempted to identify the perpetrator from a sequential lineup. Further, participants rated the likeness of the composites to the perpetrator. Face recall and lineup identification were impaired when participants witnessed the staged crime in the presence of a meaningful halfalogue compared to a meaningless halfalogue, meaningful dialogue, or quiet. Moreover, likeness ratings showed that the composites constructed after ignoring the meaningful halfalogue resembled the perpetrator less than did those constructed after experiencing quiet or ignoring a meaningless halfalogue or a meaningful dialogue. The unpredictability of the meaningful content of the halfalogue, rather than its acoustic unexpectedness, produces distraction. The results are novel in that they suggest that an everyday distraction, even when presented in a different modality to target information, can impair the long-term memory of an eyewitness

  • Type:

    Article

  • Date:

    12 June 2017

  • Publication Status:

    Published

  • DOI:

    10.1037/cep0000101

  • Cross Ref:

    2017-25740-001

  • ISSN:

    1196-1961

  • Library of Congress:

    B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    158 Applied psychology

  • Funders:

    British Academy

Citation

Marsh, J. E., Patel, K., Labonté, K., Battersby, K. L., Frowd, C. D., Ball, L. J., …Vachon, F. (2017). Chatting in the face of the eyewitness: the impact of extraneous cell-phone conversation on memory for a perpetrator. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 71(3), (183-190). doi:10.1037/cep0000101. ISSN 1196-1961

Authors

Keywords

Eyewitness, memory, mobile phone use,

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