Exploring the Relationship Between Personality Characteristics and Eyewitness Memory: A Test of the Weapons-Focused Effect
Date of Award
Honors College Thesis
Criminal Justice; Psychology
Eyewitness accuracy is of vital importance in crime scene investigations; however, accumulating evidence suggests that eyewitnesses often show memory inaccuracies. One type of eyewitness inaccuracy is the weapons-focused effect which occurs when the presence of a weapon as part of a crime scene compromises an individual’s ability to recall other details about the event or scene (Erickson, Lampinen & Leding, 2014). Given the weapons-focused effect negatively affects eyewitness accuracy, the purpose of my thesis is to examine the extent to which the weapons-focused effect is moderated by certain personality traits. Of particular interest were the neuroticism and conscientiousness factors in the Big 5 Personality Inventory (Costa & McCrae, 1992) and the Need for Cognition scale (Cacioppo, Petty, & Kao, 1984). To accomplish this objective, participants viewed a set of static images depicting various crime scenes, some of which included weapons, followed by a recognition memory test for the scenes and the personality inventories. To preview, correlational analyses revealed no significant relationships between the weapons-focused effect and the personality traits of interest, though a significant relationship was found between conscientiousness and overall memory for the scenes. Thus, the weapons-focused effect may occur more broadly, across different personality types.
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Stahly, Emily Jean, "Exploring the Relationship Between Personality Characteristics and Eyewitness Memory: A Test of the Weapons-Focused Effect" (2018). Honors Theses. 609.