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The Article “Eyewitness Testimony: The Influence Of The Wording Of A Question” By Elizabeth Loftus & Guido Zanni

The article “Eyewitness testimony: The influence of the wording of a question” by Elizabeth Loftus and Guido Zanni

The article “Eyewitness testimony: The influence of the wording of a question” by Elizabeth Loftus and Guido Zanni, discuss the “ accuracy of an answer to a specific question can be noticeably influenced by the wording of the question itself” (Loftus and Palmer). Furthermore, this article talks about the significance of the articles when asking questions. For instance, there was a research done where subjects watched a film of a car accident followed by answering questions at the end. They were asked questions that included either the article “the”(definite article” or the article “a” (non definite or indefinite article” For example, “Did you see the broken headlight?” and “Did you see a broken headlight?”. Previous research has voiced whether there is a difference using these two articles.

According to (Muscio,1915), the more reliable question did not include a definite article, whereas (Burtt(1931), states that “ a and the are about equally suggestive”. There was an experiment similar to the one mentioned previously, one hundred graduates watched a film of a car accident and was received questions at the end. The mean score results reported that “both subjects who had been interrogated with a and the subjects who had been interrogated with the” were found to be more confident about items that was present in the film.” From the experiments subjects participated in, questions with an indefinite article received more I don’t know responses leaving those with uncertainty if they saw a broken headlight or not. The phrase “Did you see the broken headlight?” implies that a broken headlight did exist leaving the participant more reassured and confidently answer with no hesitation.

Present research have also found that the use of indefinite articles created more false responses. From the studies done, the results show the significance of forming questions when attorneys interrogate before a court trial. There are various questions that can be asked to “elicit desired answers from a witness” which can greatly influence the jury. After reading “Eyewitness testimony” it is clear questions that either contain the articles and play an important role when interrogating because they can suggest different things thus helping one get a desired answer especially in court.

Bibliography:

  1. Loftus, E. F., & Zanni, G. (1975). Eyewitness testimony: The influence of the wording of a question. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 5(1), 86-88. doi:10.3758/bf03336715
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