Examining the effects of acute stress on memory in eyewitness settings

Carey Marr

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMixed; collaboration

766 Downloads (Pure)


Understanding how acute stress affects eyewitness memory performance is critical for legal settings. Though this topic has been studied for decennia, several gaps in knowledge still remain. The overarching aim of this thesis was to combine the distinct theoretical and methodological strengths of the eyewitness and fundamental memory fields to enhance understanding of this topic. Across one exploratory survey and three laboratory experiments, this research examined the effects of acute stress on both encoding and retrieval memory performance. The study found that current eyewitness memory experts and current fundamental memory experts do not always agree on the effects of stress on memory, for example disagreeing about the effects of encoding stress on memory performance. In laboratory experiments, this research successfully induced stress, with stressed participants reporting higher negative affect and showing increased blood pressure and cortisol levels. However, no effects of acute encoding or retrieval stress were found on memory performance.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Maastricht University
  • University of Portsmouth
  • Otgaar, Henry, Supervisor
  • Hope, Lorraine, Supervisor, External person
  • Sauerland, Melanie, Co-Supervisor
  • Quaedflieg, Conny, Co-Supervisor
Award date10 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • stress
  • eyewitness
  • memory
  • forensics


Dive into the research topics of 'Examining the effects of acute stress on memory in eyewitness settings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this