Introduction “Most people have difficulty estimating the duration of an event…the tendency is to over estimate the duration of events..”(Bird 1927; Whippie, 1909).
In my Psychology group, we recreated an experiment that was supposed to show how eyewitness testimony can be distorted. Loftus and Palmers (1974) goal was to show how eyewitness testimony could be comprehended as inaccurate. The authors showed a short clip of a car accident and then asked a sample of subjects a series of questions. Utilizing inferential statistics, they used different verbs with each question and then reported on their findings. For example: “Approximately how fast were the cars going when they insert selected verb here?”. Verbs chosen were contacted, collided, hit, smashed, etc.) My Psychology group and I hypothesized that, the verb smashed would have a bigger impact of showing a higher speed range, versus using the verb “contacted”, where the participants in the sample automatically assumed the cars were traveling at a lower speed. We theorized this because the use of the verb”smashed” had a mean speed of 40.
5 mph, whereas the use of the verb “contacted” produced a mean speed of 31.8 mph. Overall, this process was very difficult, as outliers (individuals in the sample that didn’t take the questions seriously) answered what questionnaires asked, but if some answered the participants did not answer in terms of miles per hour, they simply replied, “the cars were going slow”.Method Our group took two classes to collect data for the question, “how fast were the cars going when they made contact”, but we only used data from one of the classes. The participants were shown a short car accident clip that was ten seconds in length; they then received a questionnaire asking five questions, including the speed.
A week later, we reconvened in order to conduct research on the participants’ memories from the previous video that was shown. The same process was also used with the question “how fast were the cars going when they smashed together”. We then collected the data that was shown with the speed and the answers given to the question “was there glass involved?”. Results The results for the speeds between the two verbs, contacted and smashed, were accurate to our hypothesis; use of the word “smashed” was shown to have a lower effect on speed. Our findings reported the average mean of car “contact” at 36.4 mph, whereas the average mean of “smashed” contact was 43.
06 mph. These closely coincide with Loftus and Palmer results as well (“contact” was 31.8 mph and “smashed” was 40.5 mph)(586) After taking a look at the raw data (appendix I), there was an outlier of 0 and 60. This affected the results and made the mean a bigger number than it should have been.
The lowest speed that was recorded for “smashed” was 20 mph and the highest was 80 mph, which supports the theory that the verb change would have affected the speed change. When we tested “smashed”, we never got 0 mph; the highest result was higher than the “contacted” result, both by 20. Given that the range was far from the standard deviation and a bigger number than it should have been, our group pondered whether or not the data was skewed.
Upon further analysis, we also discovered the mode for “contacted” was also a smaller number then “smashed”:Central Tendency: Contacted Smashed Mean: 36.43 Mean: 43.068 Median:32.5 Median: 42.5 Range:60 Range: 60 Mode:30 Mode: 35 and 45Standard Deviation:13.96 Standard Deviation:15.
83 Results of MemoryAfter conducting the data from the average miles per hour, we returned to the same classes to see how much the participants remembered from the car crash and also collected data from the control. Our findings were not what we were wanting or expecting because there was supposed to be more “no” than “yes there was glass”. I believe this was due to confusion with debris flying around, instead of glass. Conclusion I believe that our data was skewed because of a misleading video showing debris and also from us not giving enough information. The participants gave answers of “the cars were going slow” or vise versa (not giving us a numerical number to calculate what “slow” or “fast” means.) Also, since our sample included participants that were younger in age, I feel they did not take our coursework, reports, and findings very seriously..
For example, when we asked the follow up questions, the participants could have possibly guessed yes or no, as maybe it was too short of a video and not very detailed. I believe all these problems that have happened all tie back together because “Eyewitness Testimony” is supposed to show that.