From an article in Science Daily detailing a University of Virginia study published in Psychonomic Bulletin and Review titled “I misremember it well: Why older adults are unreliable eyewitnesses”:
Dodson and U.Va. graduate student Lacy Krueger studied “suggestibility errors,” instances where people come to believe that a particular event occurred, when in fact, the event was merely suggested to them and did not actually occur.
They found through a series of experiments that when younger and older adults were matched on their overall memory for experienced events, both groups showed comparable rates of suggestibility errors in which they claimed to have seen events in a video that had been suggested in a subsequent questionnaire.
Both groups were also asked to rate how certain they were about their memories. From the abstract of the article itself:
However, older adults were—alarmingly—most likely to commit suggestibility errors when they were most confident about the correctness of their response.
By contrast, their younger, accuracy-matched counterparts were most likely to commit these errors when they were uncertain about the accuracy of their response.
This study is, therefore, perhaps less instructive about the comparable reliability of older vs. younger adults when it comes to eyewitness testimony. When the researchers compared between age groups but within the same overall accuracy range, they found that older witnesses were more certain of their wrong memories than their younger counterparts.
It’s the witness’ conclusion about how certain they were that is most disturbing here. In older adults, certainty and accuracy were inversely correlated.
From a criminal defense lawyer’s perspective there’s nothing more difficult to deal with, than a witness who is sincerely, but wrongfully accusing someone.
[Source for post: Idealawg]