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Increasing the Quality of Rape Survivor Memory Evidence

Project Description

Recent research has found that witnesses and rape victims (Flowe et al., in press; Flowe et al., 2016) strive to volunteer their strongest memories and withhold weaker ones, which enables them to avoid providing erroneous information. This suggests witnesses and victims use meta-memory processes to maintain the accuracy of their testimony: They volunteer information when they are certain that it is accurate and withhold it when they are less certain. The power of meta-memory is exemplified by the aforementioned DNA exoneration cases: Remarkably, all of the victims who made memory errors had expressed to the police uncertainty that their memory report was accurate (Garret, 2010). Many wrongful convictions can perhaps be avoided if the victim’s level of certainty in the accuracy of their statements is considered by investigators. However, the police, in an effort to obtain as much detail as possible during interviews, may inadvertently reduce the quality of memory evidence by encouraging victims to report everything they remember in as much detail as possible (MOJ, 2013).

The project will explore the power of victim meta-memory to increase the accuracy of their testimony. Meta-memory encompasses self-awareness about how well one remembers different parts of the rape—or one’s memory strength, and strategies that one uses to enhance memory performance. The first project analyses statements made by witnesses and victims during police interviews.

Visit our research webpage to learn more:

*It is acknowledged that the term ‘survivor’ may be more appropriate, depending on the circumstances. Here, ‘victim’ is used for consistency with the terminology used in the literature.

Funding Notes

There is presently no studentship funding available, but I can work with students (1st class degree, research experience) to apply for ESRC funding.


Related Subjects

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 40.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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