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Alcohol-intoxicated eyewitnesses’ memory

Conference contribution
Authors Angelica Hagsand
Published in Invited presenter at research seminar, Department of Psychology, Florida International University (FIU), Miami, Florida, USA.
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords Alcohol, eyewitnesses, memory, recall, recognition
Subject categories Cognitive science, Applied Psychology


Alcohol-related crimes are common, and therefore, intoxicated witnesses are common. However, only a handful of published studies have described how alcohol affects eyewitnesses’ memory. The overall aim of the doctoral thesis was to examine how alcohol affects eyewitnesses’ memory. The thesis comprises three studies, which followed similar general procedures. The participants in the studies consumed an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage during a 15-minute period and then witnessed a film that depicting a staged kidnapping. The retention interval and recall format varied between the studies. Study 1 examined witnesses’ lineup performance, Study 2 examined the witnesses’ one week delayed recall and Study 3 investigated the effect of repeated recall on the witnesses’ memory. In summary, this doctoral thesis shows that overall, alcohol consumption does not have a negative effect on either witness’s line-up performance (recognition) or on the amount of information reported during investigative interviews (recall). This thesis shows that representatives of the legal system may expect that witnesses with low to moderate intoxication (blood alcohol concentration <0.10%) will perform at approximately the same level as sober witnesses.

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