Mojtahedi, Dara, Ioannou, Maria and Hammond, Laura (2017) Investigating the Effects of Pre-existing Co-Witness Relationships on Statement Similarity. In: Division of Forensic Psychology British Psychological Society Annual Conference, 13th-15th June 2017, Bristol. (Unpublished)

The present study examined the effects of a pre-existing relationship between co-witnesses on memory conformity. The study aimed to identify whether eyewitnesses were at a higher risk of conforming to co-witnesses that they were familiar with, than to unfamiliar co-witnesses.
The study utilised a novel experimental paradigm in which participants viewed footage of a crime before partaking in a post-event discussion with their group. It employed a three-way between subjects design, where participants either had a pre-existing relationship with their co-witnesses, had no previous relations to their co-witnesses, or were not permitted to discuss the event with their co-witnesses (control).
Four hundred twenty participants took part in the study. They were placed into groups of five and viewed a CCTV footage of bar fight breaking out, due to the ambiguity of the footage, there was a clear heterogeneity of statements. Participants then took part in a post-event discussion with group members before giving individual statements.
A one-way between groups analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted. Results indicated that eyewitness groups with pre-existing relationships had a significantly higher level of statement similarity than eyewitnesses in the control and no-relations conditions. There were no significant differences in statement similarity between eyewitnesses who discussed the event with strangers and eyewitnesses in the control groups.
The results indicate that eyewitnesses are more likely to accept misinformation from peers than from strangers. Explanations for the findings, along with implication for police interventions, are discussed.

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