The Science of Perception and Memory: A Pragmatic Guide for the Justice System

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9780199826964: The Science of Perception and Memory: A Pragmatic Guide for the Justice System

A robbery victim tries to remember how the crime unfolded and who was present at the scene. A medical patient recalls the doctor saying that the pain in her side wasn't worrisome, and now that the tumor is much larger, she's suing. An investigation of insider trading hinges on someone's memory of exactly what was said at a particular business meeting. In these and countless other examples, our ability to remember our experiences is crucial for the justice system. The problem, though, is that perception and memory are fallible. How often do our eyes or memories deceive us? Is there some way to avoid these errors? Can we specify the circumstances in which perceptual or memory errors are more or less likely to occur?

Professor Daniel Reisberg tackles these questions by drawing on the available science and his personal experience training attorneys. He provides detailed pragmatic advice that will prove helpful to law enforcement, prosecutors, defenders, and anyone else who hopes to maximize the quality of the evidence available to the courts -- whether the evidence is coming from witnesses, victims, or defendants.

This book is carefully rooted in research but written in a way that will make it fully accessible to non-scientists working in the justice system. Early chapters provide an overview of the relevant science and a broad portrait of how perception and memory function. Later chapters offer practical solutions for navigating situations involving eyewitness identifications, remembered conversations, evidence obtained from interviews with children, confession evidence, and the risks of false confession.

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About the Author:


Daniel Reisberg is Patricia and Clifford Lunneborg Professor of Psychology at Reed College, Oregon. His research focuses on a range of topics tied to perception and cognition, with special emphasis on visual imagery and memory for emotional events. He is the editor of the Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Psychology.

Review:


"This small, information-rich volume is essential for the library of everyone who cares about the accuracy of witness evidence. Professor Daniel Reisberg provides a comprehensive and comprehensible handbook for understanding how we observe, remember, and recall information that may be critical in a legal proceeding. The book offers not only an overview of the scientific method and its use in the study of memory and perception, but also a strong argument for its utility in the legal system in the search for justice. The book is organized logically [and] the author's wry humor sprinkles an occasional smile into the text. This book is an invaluable contribution to a responsible, reasoned, and well-informed use of science in the justice system." --Susan Elizabeth Reese, The Champion


"This book does a masterful job of conveying science in an accessible yet erudite way. [J]udges, attorneys, and policymakers without formal training in the sciences or experience in reading social scientific research will find its insights accessible and its conclusions useful. But what really sets this volume apart from others like it and from edited books is that even readers like me, who conduct the foundational research and think hard about how it can inform legal processes and procedures (as well as those with only a passing interest), will be engaged by Reisberg's efforts. Daniel Reisberg has done a great service to attorneys, judges, investigators, policymakers, and anyone else interested in the workings of the justice system and open to current thinking about how psychological science can be used to make it more efficient and fair. That he can also engage, instruct, and inspire researchers like myself makes Reisberg's contribution all the more impressive." -- PsycCRITIQUES


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