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Press Release - 15 February 2007

Free public lecture: how reliable is eye witness identification?

Local people have the opportunity to call into question the reliability of eyewitness testimony in the courtroom, in a free public lecture at the University of Bath.

The man in the woollen mask: memory and eyewitness testimony will take place on Wednesday 21 February at 5.15pm.

Dr Adrian Scott, from the University’s Department of Psychology, will consider the fallibility of human memory and how past experience and knowledge of the world influence recollection.

“I’ll be talking about the reconstructive nature of memory,” said Dr Scott. “When we see something, our memory doesn’t record every detail. We remember parts of it and then we reconstruct it. That’s when mistakes can occur.

“Despite psychological research demonstrating the unreliable nature of eyewitness identification, it remains a very persuasive form of evidence in the courtroom.”

Dr Scott will discuss the impact of expectation in eyewitness interviews and the influence of leading questions, along with practices aimed at improving the validity of police line-ups.

Dr Scott is a chartered psychologist with the British Psychological Society and is a psychology officer and lecturer at the University of Bath. His primary interests in forensic psychology concern the fallibility of eyewitness testimony and the psychological profiling of offenders.

Admission for the lecture is free and people can just turn up on the evening. Free parking is available in the West Car Park. The lecture runs from 5.15pm until 6.15pm in the lecture hall 8 West 1.1 on the Claverton campus.

The University of Bath is one of the UK's leading universities, with an international reputation for quality research and teaching. View a full list of the University's press releases: