'Eyewitness' Testimony Can Be Influenced by Fake Video, Study Finds
In the study, 60 college students played a computerized gambling game, each student being matched against a researcher posing as a participant. If a player answered a question correctly, he or she could take fake money from a shared bank. Answer wrong, and he or she would have to put 'money' back into the bank. When the game was over, administrators showed each student participant a video that had been secretly altered to show the other participant (in fact, the researcher) cheating. Even though all of the students were told they should be 100-percent sure they saw the other cheat in person, and that confirmed cheaters would be punished, nearly half of the participants signed an eyewitness testimony based on the fake video. Some even "invented memories," according to researchers. When only told about the video evidence, a mere 10-percent gave an unwittingly false statement.
Demonstrating that video has a very strong influence on a person's memory, this study also brings up some serious questions and concerns for courtrooms, suggesting that eyewitness testimony, which is based on memory, can be easily and effectively manipulated. That's serious stuff, too, when a simple case of 'mis-remembering' could lead to a lengthy prison sentence or execution. [From: Wired]