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Eyewitness memory is one of the most important psychological human traits. It is an episodic type of memory that allows people to remember dramatic and important events they have witnessed. Average citizens do not usually care about this type of memory being unaware of its importance. Nevertheless, eyewitness memory helps the society to function properly.
To start with, scientists have recently discovered that eyewitness memory often turns out to be unreliable. In other words, as time passes, human memory can worsen. Thus, it becomes difficult to witness about the events that happened long ago. However, courts would not accomplish their initial predestination if they had no possibility to receive first-hand information. Moreover, eyewitness memory is highly useful for maintaining the order within society. Undoubtedly, the right order is crucial for an average citizen since people would never wish that their lives to be jeopardized on the streets. In addition, eyewitness memory matters when it comes to legal testimony which is an integral part of successful functioning of every society. Despite researchers conclude that “witnesses are less likely to make a correct identification when a weapon is present during the event, probably because their attention is focuse on the weapon instead of the offender’s face”, eyewitness memory helps to draw an approximate plan of a crime (Steblay, 1992, p. 414).
If the role of eyewitness memory would have been underestimated, the society would face more risks and crime levels would rise immensely. For instance, if people did not possess the capacity to remember specific details in extreme situations, thieves, robbers and murderers would not fear to kill people in public places. This circumstance means that more people would have been injured. Furthermore, the absence of eyewitness memory would bring the world into chaos. It is impossible to achieve justice in case eyewitness memory is not applied.
Another aspect that contributes to the issue of “who cares?” about eyewitness memory lies in the way it influences history. The latter is often distorted by people who possess the power to manipulate the facts. It is easy to reframe the history or change some its details for particular purposes, but it is impossible to get rid of all the eyewitnesses providing the valid testimonies of the events. Additionally, average people can find it strange that eyewitness memory is so important for them, but still, this factor should be taken for granted. Every citizen is a member of the big world and a history-maker at the same time. Due to eyewitness memory, people can reach justice and prevent history distortion by means of retelling the event the way it actually happened.
Undoubtedly, the research in this area should seriously impact the real world. For instance, scientists report that eyewitness memory can be sometimes insufficient since it may be worsened by such factors as stress, anxiety or weapon focus. Simultaneously, any of such issues does not mean that eyewitness memory is useless. It is better to interrogate a witness even if they do not remember details than have nobody to give testimonies. Research in this area can help to discover the methods of work with eyewitnesses during a court process. The above option also can be valuable for detectives as researchers can determine the level of reliability of an eyewitness’s testimony depending on their psychological state. Although the issue is rather disputing, it is necessary to investigate it until more positive factors are found.
To summarize, eyewitness memory is crucial for average citizens because this phenomenon is a pledge of successful society. Without eyewitness memory, humanity would not be able to maintain justice and prevent the history from global distortion.
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