UBC Theses and Dissertations
Memory for mayhem Cooper, Barry
The examination of the variables influencing eyewitness memory is of paramount importance to the discipline of forensic psychology. Indeed, understanding the factors associated with eyewitness memory is crucial when eliciting and evaluating the recall of victims, witnesses, and perpetrators of crime. The present investigation was the first comprehensive field study to explore the variables associated with eyewitness memory in the context of examining perpetrators of violent crime. An objective was to assess certain elements of a recently developed biopsychosocial theory of eyewitness memory. One hundred and fifty male incarcerated violent crime perpetrators were asked to recall up to five different types of memories: an act of perpetrated instrumental violence, an act of perpetrated reactive violence, a subjectively disturbing (traumatic) event, a positively valenced event, and a perpetrated act of violence for which the offender had poor memory. The phenomenological characteristics of the memories were compared and state and trait variables were assessed. A number of factors were associated with the participants' responses to their provided events and their memories for such events. In terms of precipitating factors, acts of instrumental violence were experienced with significantly lower levels of negative valence and were recalled significantly better in comparison to acts of reactive violence. Although participants' memories for their positive and subjectively disturbing experiences did not significantly differ in phenomenological characteristics, the latter experiences were associated with significantly higher reports of state dissociation and negative valence than the former. In regards to perpetuating factors, increased reports of rehearsal had a facilitating effect on memory. Psychopathy was examined as a predisposing factor and psychopathic participants reported significantly higher levels of positive valence during the commission of their instrumental acts of violence in comparison to the nonpsychopathic participants. Psychopathic participants also reported significantly fewer symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in relation to committing such violence in comparison to the nonpsychopathic participants. A pattern indicated psychopathic participants reported better memory for all of their provided experiences in comparison to nonpsychopathic participants. The results are discussed in terms of how the present research supports the extant research and theories. Implications for the criminal justice system are offered.
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