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Experimental Design in the Laboratory: How to Measure the Difference between Alcohol-Intoxicated and Sober Witnesses’ Memories of a Crime

Authors Angelica Hagsand
Published in SAGE Research Methods Cases
Publisher SAGE Ltd
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords research method, experimental design, teaching material, alcohol, witness, memory, research
Subject categories Psychology


Eyewitnesses often provide crucial investigative leads in criminal cases, and are often the sole source of evidence. In a recent survey in the US, Evans and colleagues (2009) found that 75% of the polled police officers reported frequent contacts with alcohol-intoxicated witnesses, usually in relation to crimes involving violence. Interviews with intoxicated witnesses were reportedly conducted on average five times a week, either directly at the crime scene (with the witness still intoxicated) or later (when the witness was sober). Moreover, Evans and Schreiber Compo (2010) as well as Kassin and colleagues (2001) have reported that jurors and expert witnesses in court may perceive intoxicated witnesses as being more cognitively impaired and less credible than sober witnesses. However, little is known about how, and if alcohol affects witnesses’ memories of a crime. To date, only around 15 studies have examined how alcohol affects witness memory of a crime, see Hagsand and colleagues (2017) for a recent review. Most of these studies have used laboratory experiments to test how alcohol affects witness memory, and only a few have been conducted in the field (e.g., in real bars). This case study describes the research procedure employed and the methodological considerations for one of our experimental studies (Hagsand and colleagues, 2017) on alcohol and witness memory conducted in Sweden by the author.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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