Co-witnesses talk: A survey of eyewitness discussion
The objective of this study was to obtain a quantitative measure of the discussion behaviour of real eyewitnesses. Undergraduate psychology students were given a questionnaire to determine if they had witnessed a serious event. Results from the questionnaire showed that the majority of respondents had witnessed a serious event at some point in their lives, and the majority of witnesses were not alone when they observed the event. Respondents who had experienced a serious event for which there was more than one witness present were invited to fill out a follow-up questionnaire. The follow-up study showed that when there is a co-witness present, most people (86%) report discussing the event with the co-witness. This is potentially problematic if the witnesses are contaminating one another's memories of the event. The results are discussed in terms of psychological research and policy implications.