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Joined: 27 Jul 2010
Posts: 899

PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 4:37 am    Post subject: Psychology Reply with quote

So I just finished my degree in psychology and one of the things that struck me about it is how little people know about what they are letting themselves in for when they start doing psychology. Now considering most people on here are card players I assume some of you are interested in the area so i thought i would give you guys the down low.

1. It will involve a lot of stats both quantitative and qualitative but its not as bad as you think, all the complicated working out is done these days by computers all you really have to be able to do is follow instructions and understand the logic behind things.

2. It will involve a lot of reading mostly of journal articles of academic databases the good thing is you can access them from anywhere with an internet connection so you do not have to spend that much time in the library like other subjects. You will always need to be critical and sometimes reflective.

Below is an example piece of work from my 3rd year Forensic Psychology class it got a 72 which is a first for the record.

If you have any questions just send me a message on the board.

Expert Review: Eyewitness Testimony

Professional Competences

Title : Dr McLovin


Msc Forensic Psychology Leicester University 1987
Ph.D Forensic Psychology Birmingham University 1990


Chartered Psychologist BPS registered
Chartered Forensic Psychologist HPC registered

Employment and Experience

I have operated as a Forensic Psychologist working for the police and courts for 21 years. I have worked in tandem with the police in order to ensure appropriate measures are used when interviewing eyewitnesses with the aim of achieving the most accurate and credible results. I have also been required to give evidence as an expert eyewitness multiple times throughout my career, I have worked for both the juvenile and adult courts, working with both eyewitness testimony and court order assessments.

Overview of Main Issues

With regard to the information provided by the eyewitness and police in relation to the crime, the following issues were identified.

• Misinformation
• Age
• Weapon Focus
• Confidence and Confidence Malleability
• Mug Shot Exposure
• Unconscious Transference

Age can largely be discounted as a factor likely to be affecting eyewitness testimony. Although there is a large body of evidence that children under 10 years of age and adults over the age of 65 are significantly less reliable as eyewitness as the eyewitness in case is middle aged (40), it is unlikely to have an impact upon the reliability of her testimony (List 1986, Brimacombe et al. 1997 Mueller-Johnson 2005).

Similarly misinformation, as a possibility, can largely be discounted. As, although it can have an effect upon eyewitness recall particularly over time and in the case of children the only possible misinformation that could be present in the case would be the assumption by the police that the crimes were part of a spree committed by the same group (Rantzen and Markham 1992, Mudd and Govern 2004).

Weapon focus the idea that a weapon will distract a eyewitness by drawing the eyewitness’s attention away from the criminal and on to the weapon will also be explored (Howard 1993). In a meta-analysis of research conducted on weapon focus it was found to have a small effect size in relation to accuracy of identifying a eyewitness (Howard 1993). Howard (1993) feels that, although weapon focus is an area worthy of psychological research to deepen understanding of the phenomenon, currently the understanding is not great enough to be fit for providing evidence in a court case. However Kassin et al. (2001) disagree with Howard (1993) and feel weapon focus is a sufficiently explored phenomenon to be used as an argument in court. After reviewing literature on weapon focus it becomes apparent that there is ample research into weapons focus (Loftus, Loftus, Messo 1987, Pickel 1998, Pickel 1999, Shaw and Skolnick 1999, Pickel, French and Betts 2003.) Much of the research was done after Howard reached his conclusion and its seems his conclusion is somewhat dated and for this reason it shall be reviewed in further detail in relation into the possible impact it could have on the eyewitness.

Confidence Malleability was found by Kassin (2001) to be a deep enough developed phenomenon to be used in court cases. The discussed eyewitness throughout the case displayed a deep level of confidence, a positive correlation has been found between confidence and accuracy of eyewitness testimony when this is assessed for (Brewer and Wells 2006, Sauer, Brewer and Weber 2008, Kebbell 2009). However a series of other factors such as supporting or contradicting eyewitnesses, line up instructions and target absence base rates have been found to influence confidence so the phenomenon needs greater exploration and will be examined in greater detail further on in the report (Brewer and Wells 2006, Shaw et al. 2007, Sauer, Brewer and Weber 2008 Kebbell 2009.)

Unconscious transference and mug shot exposure will be considered together in deeper detail in relation to the eyewitness, as a series of problems arise in this area from the eyewitness statement. Unconscious transference is described as a process in which an innocent person is mistaken for the guilty party due to previous sightings of the person (Read et al. 1990, Ross et al.1994). Mug shot exposure has been found by some research and contradicted by other to increase the probability of unconscious transference (Dysart 2001, Deffenbacher, Bornstein and Penrod 2006).

Discussion of Main Issues

Weapon Focus

In Mrs Cs statement to the police it is stated that the men, one of whom she has supposedly identified, shouted and waved their guns at her, leaving her both shocked and frightened. We will now explore the possible consequences of this sequence of events on the identification process.

Weapon focus is defined as: - A tendency for eyewitnesses to a crime involving a firearm to concentrate their attention on the weapon and as a consequence to show relatively poor subsequent recall of other aspects of the incident, in particular poor ability to identify the offender. The underlying psychological mechanism responsible for this phenomenon is sharpening (Coleman 2009).

Sharpening is defined as - The magnification or exaggeration of certain salient details in perception or memory, and also in serial reproduction and rumour transmission (Coleman 2009).

Loftus, Loftus and Messo (1987) provided the first empirical support for the notion of weapon focus, by recording eye movements as eyewitnesses viewed a slideshow of a crime. Poorer recall of the criminal was found in the memory condition in which a weapon was present than when a weapon was not. It must be considered that a slideshow is a lot less distressing an event than an actual robbery, which is much more stressful and behaviour may be different in times of high stress. Steblay (1992) conducted a meta-analysis upon the effect of weapon focus, they concluded that the data supported the hypothesis of a weapon focus effect; although the effect size was only small Steblay (1992) suggested this was due to the large number of factors interplaying upon eyewitness testimony of which weapon focus is a singular factor.

Research has also postulated and provided support for the notion that the novelty or unusualness of the object present is the cause of the reduced recall (Pickel 1998, Hope and Wright 2007.) Once again all though this maybe the case in artificial settings, in the event of an actual robbery it cannot be know for certain that reactions will be the same. However if this is the case then if the eyewitness had some familiarity with guns focus maybe less of an issue however we do not have any information on this matter.

Overall the research on weapon focus is all in tandem that the presence of a weapon does negatively affect eyewitness testimony, however it is not so great an effect that a testimony should be disregarded based entirely upon the presence of a weapon.

Mugshot Exposure and Unconscious Transference

Deffenbacher, Bornstein and Penrod (2006) conducted a meta-analysis of research into mug shot exposure and found that it decreased the proportion of correct identifications and also increased the false alarm rate. Both Deffenbacher, Carr and Leu (1981) and Perfect and Harris (2003) found in their research into prior mugshot exposure and unconscious transference that, that mugshot exposure greatly increased the chance of unconscious transference taking place. However Dysart et al. (2001) in their experiment found no such relationship between mugshot exposure and transference.

Overall the literature seems to largely find mugshot exposure to be a valid psychological phenomenon. In the case of our eyewitness having previously seen the accused around the neighbourhood and knowing he has a bad reputation there is a very real possibility of mug shot exposure, increasing the chance of an unconscious transference taking place. Indeed it has been postulated that the effects of weapon focus and concentrating on the gun can increase the chance of unconscious transference due to poorer recall of the perpetrator (Gilligan, Imwinkelried and Loftus 1997). Gilligan, Imwinkelried and Loftus (1997) argument is both logical and intuitive in its postulation.

One explanation of unconscious transference is that in the case of a stressful event as our eyewitness indicated she experienced stating that she was frightened and shocked our attention tends to narrow down and focus on particular salient details relevant to us often overlooking such matters as the perpetrator of the crimes face (Gilligan, Imwinkelried and Loftus 1997).

Another factor necessary for unconscious transference to take place is the replacement of the memory gap with a different face. It has been suggested that this is most likely to take place with someone we are moderately familiar with, have seen multiple times but do not have a direct recollection of (Gilligan, Imwinkelried and Loftus 1997). In relation to this study the eyewitness recalls seeing the accused around the area on multiple occasions and even recalls he has a bad reputation so this reduces the chance of unconscious transference taking place, if the theory is correct. However there is no actual psychological research to back up this part of the theory so it would be dangerous to draw conclusions from the postulation.

Although familiarity with the accused reduces the chance of unconscious transference taking place, the interview with her does not go into enough depth on the matter of how familiar the eyewitness is with the accused, that the possibility of prior mugshot exposure has caused unconscious transference to take place cannot be ruled out based solely on theory with no empirical studies to back it up. Overall mugshot exposure and the possibility of unconscious transference taking place, negatively impact upon the reliability of the eyewitnesses statement.

Confidence and Confidence Malleability

Throughout the case the eyewitness was confident and immediate in her identification of the accused as one of the perpetrators of the crime under investigation. It has been found that when eyewitnesses are more confident of a facts or details of a situation, that more information is provided, whilst less description is provided when less confident (Weber and Brewer 2008).

Interestingly our eyewitness, although stated as confident throughout the identification process, provides only a brief statement with little detail or elaboration beyond basic facts except to describe her own fear at the situation. Although detail is provided up to the event, the only information provided by the eyewitness was the statement that she recognised him, with no descriptive detail of the man. This would suggest that perhaps something else is going on here such as unconscious transference explored earlier in the report.

Additionally to this research has found that people tend to be over confident in their own ability (Davies et al. 2008 pp.219-223). Davies et al. (2008 pp.219-223) findings however are based upon a broad generalisation of people and does not take into account for individual differences. Still further to this it was found that when eyewitnesses receive positive feedback about their choices as the eyewitnesses did in this study, when they were told three of the five eyewitnesses had identified the same person confidence tends to inflate regardless of accuracy (Davies et al. 2008 pp. 219-223). Once again the findings of this study show a general lack of regard for individual differences.

However some research does provide support for the idea that confidence assessment immediately after identification can be a valuable tool in determining eyewitness accuracy (Weber and Brewer 2006). Immediate testing after the event for confidence is a good and intuitive idea, as people will forget their doubts over time with memory decay so it is not surprising that these findings were found.

Similarly Sauer Brewer and Weber (2008) found that if confidence was assessed using a devised binary scale to quantify confidence, a positive relationship was found between confidence and eyewitness accuracy. However as no indication of if such an assessment was done in this case no such assumptions can be made.
Overall the research on confidence indicates that without an actual formal purposeful assessment of eyewitnesses confidence immediately after the identification, a person’s confidence is actually unfounded and malleable by other factors. Considering this the confidence of the witness in question should not be taken as an indication that her statement is more reliable due to this factor.


After reviewing the evidence on a series of psychological constructs that relate to the eyewitnesses statement, weapon focus, mug shot exposure, unconscious transference and confidence I would recommend that the eyewitnesses’ statement should not be treated as reliable evidence.

The reasons for this are as follows, although the eyewitness is confident without an accurate measure being taken after the immediate identification of the suspect, confidence is easily influenced by other factors. Such as our ability to overestimate our abilities and positive confirmation by the police. Although a fairly large amount of detail was present up to the actual event, at the time of the event recall is less detailed and salient, which would support the idea eyewitness confidence, is due to other factors rather than good recall of the events.

Weapon focus is a factor which could have impacted upon recall, and diverted attention away from identifying the facial features of the criminal, which would in turn increase the chance of an incorrect identification.

Similarly mugshot exposure is found to have a negative effect upon identification and increases the chance of unconscious transference taking place, this would lead to a very real danger of an innocent man being convicted for a crime he did not commit. All these factors when added together make trusting the eyewitness statement to be reliable not an even handed judgement. For these reason the statement of the eyewitness should be treated with caution.


Brewer, N. Wells, G. (2006) ‘The confidence-accuracy relationship in eyewitness identification: Effect of lineup instruction, foil similarity and target-absent base rates.’ Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 12(1), pp. 11-30.

Brimacombe, E. Quinton, N. Nance, N. Garrioch, L. (1997) ‘Is age irrelevant? Perceptions of young and old adult eyewitnesses.’ Law and Human Behaviour, 21(6) pp. 619-634.

Coleman, A. (2009) A Dictionary of Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Davies, G. Hollin, C. Bull, R. Blackwell-Young, J., Brainerd, C. Hatwig, M. Hatcher, R. Holliday, R. Holmberg, U. Jamel, J. Kronkvis, O. McGuire, J. Palmer, E. Reyna, V. Valentine, T. Westcott, H. Wheatcroft, J. (2008) Forensic Psychology. West Susex, John Riley and Sons Limited.

Deffenbacher, K. Bornstein, B. Penrod, S. (2006) ‘Mugshot exposure effects: Retroactive Interference, Mugshot Commitment, Source Confusion and Unconscious Transference.’ Law and Human Behaviour, 30(3), pp. 287-307.

Deffenbacher, K., Carr, T. Leu, J. (1981). ‘Memory for words, pictures, and faces: Retroactive interference, forgetting, and reminiscence.’ Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 7, pp. 299–305.

Dysart, J. (2001) ‘Mug shot exposure prior to lineup identification: Interference, transference and commitment effects.’ Journal of Applied Psychology, 86(6), pp. 1280-1284.

Gilligan, F.. Imwinkelried, E. Loftus, E. (1997) ‘The Theory of "Unconscious
Transference": The Latest Threat to the Shield Laws Protecting the Privacy of Victims of Sex Offenses.’ Boston College Law Review, 38(1).

Hope, L. Wright, D. (2007) ‘Beyond unusual? Examining the role of attention in the weapon focus effect.’ Applied Cognitive Psychology, 21(7), pp-951 961.

Howard, E. (1993) ‘What do we not know about eyewitness identification?’ American Psychologist, 48(5), pp. 577-580.

Kassin, S. (2001) ‘On the ‘general acceptance’ of eyewitness testimony research: A new survey of the experts.’ American Psychologists, 56(5), pp. 405-416.

Kebbell, M. (2009) ‘Witness confidence and accuracy: is appositive relationship maintained for recall under interview conditions?’ Journal of investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 6(1), pp. 11-23.

List, J. (1986) ‘Age and schematic differences in the reliability of eyewitness testimony.’ Developmental Psychology, 22(1), pp. 50-57.

Loftus, E. Loftus, G. Messo, J. (1987) ‘Some facts about “weapon focus”.’ Law and Human Behaviour, 11(1), pp. 55-62.

Mudd, K. Govern, J. (2004) ‘Conformity to Misinformation and Time Delay Negatively Affect Eyewitness Confidence and Accuracy.’ North American Journal of Psychology, 6(2), 227-238.

Mueller-Johnson, K. (2005) ‘Older eyewitnesses: Eyewitness accuracy, suggestibility and the perception of credibility.’ Dissertation Absracts International: Section B The Sciences and Engineering, 66(4-B), pp.2326.

Perfect, T. and Harris, L. (2003). ‘Adult age differences in unconscious transference: Source confusion or identity blending?’ Memory & Cognition, 31, pp. 570–580.

Pickel, K. (1998) ‘Unusualness and Threat as Possible Cause of “Weapon Focus”.’ Memory, 3, p. 277-295.

Pickel, K. (1999) ‘The influence of context on the “weapon focus” effect. Law and Human Behaviour, 23(3), pp. 299-311.

Pickel, K. French, T. Betts, J. (2003) ‘A cross-modal weapon focus effect: The influence of a weapon’s presence on memory for auditory information.’ Memory, 11(3), p. 277.

Rantzen, A. Markham, R. (1992) ‘The reversed eyewitness testimony design: More evidence for source monitoring.’ Journal of General Psychology, 119(1), pp. 37-43.

Read, J. Tollestrup, P. Hammersley, R. McFadzen, E. Christensen, A. (1990) ‘The Unconscious Transference Effect: Are Innocent Bystanders ever Misidentified?’ Applied Cognitive Psychology, 4(1), pp. 3-31.

Sauer, J. Brewer, N. Weber, N. (2008) ‘Multiple confidence estimates as indices of eyewitness memory.’ Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 137(3), pp. 528- 547.

Shaw, J. Appio, L. Zerr, T. Pontoski, K. (2007) ‘Public eyewitness confidence can be influenced by the presence of other witnesses.’ Law and Human Behaviour, 31(6), pp.629-652.

Steblay, N. (1992) ‘A meta-analytic review of the weapon focus effect.’ Law and Human Behaviour, 16(4), pp. 413-424.

Weber, N. Brewer, N. (2008) ‘Eyewitness recall: Regulation of grain size and the role of confidence.’ Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 14(1), pp. 50-60.
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Joined: 14 Jan 2012
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now you have to get a master's and a phd.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think i am going to get a masters not sure if i will go as far as a phd.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Definitely get the Masters. Only get the PhD if you like signing research grants all day, at least that's the excuse my girlfriend gives me for not going back and getting her PhD in Mechanical Engineering (she already has a Masters).

I'll be getting my undergrad in psychology in a few years then I'm moving on to Law school. Apparently psychology is heavily frowned upon by the "hard" science community and this has caused a never-ending amount of arguments between her and I.

As for what to get your masters in, I would suggest Neurology, or if you're really good at math, get it in electrical engineering. We're doing some very interesting thing with neural (or synaptic) gates at the moment.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah I'm aware there is a lot of ground breaking research going on in that area, such as the research that shows you have already made a decision 3 seconds before you become consciously aware of it questioning if we truly have freedom of choice and stuff like that but that just does not interest me.

I think its mostly certain types of psychologist, clinical, social and counselling that some areas of the scientific community scoff at and to be honest after studying the areas I can see why. Social psychologists are evil they see the world as in groups and out groups and people as pawns they can manipulate to there own evil end. At least that is how I see it LMFAO

I intend to go into forensic as that actually seems like a pretty solid area based on good stuff that i can actually do something productive with. Educational psychology is also pretty useful stuff but I just do not think I am cut out to work with kids.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So glad I didn't do an undergrad honors math thesis... that looks like rough stuff
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Psychology is for noobs. Become a psychiatrist so then you can at least hook ppl up with xannies.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frankly people like you make me sympathies with Galton, he was after all a brilliant scientist.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Galton!!?? Don't throw eugenics into the conversation without having a decent exit strategy!!~~

Darwin wiped the floor with Galton, although the lexical hypothesis was/is a nice contribution to sociology and linguistics.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd say Goldberg ripped apart the whole lot of them but jokes about eugenics are always dodgy ground but Galton also invented multiple useful gadgets as well as being the man responsible for inspiring Hitler.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

as i am an economist and i work in the financial markets area i'll ask about something i'm interested in: are you interested in David Kahneman work? That's a new area of study and research and i can assure there's a lot of work to do.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No I'm afraid I do not have a clue what your talking about.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

David Kahneman is the first and only psychologist to win thhhe Economics Nobel Prize. He is notable for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making, behavioral economics and hedonic psychology. (wikipedia). What i know about him is that his put together psychology and economics to describe the way markets work. Pretty interesting, at least for me, as i see what he describes every day.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 6:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh that area is quite interesting I imagine then I have ran into some of his stuff but not recognized the name. So this would be stuff like you have paid for two holidays on the same weekend and can not cancel either the first one cost $100, whilst the second cost $50. You would enjoy the second holiday more than the first one which one do you go on and the fact that despite regardless which holiday you take your still paying $150, most people take the $100 holiday even though they would enjoy it less.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 8:59 pm    Post subject: Psychology Reply with quote

Psychology is what I like before and I agree, there are so many areas and depth of studies. However, specializing is what I like or pursuing to become a doctor but it would really take time. Sad
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