Psychologists and psychiatrists in court: What do they know about eyewitness memory? A comparison of experts in inquisitorial and adversarial legal systems

Olivier Dodier*, Annika Melinder, Henry Otgaar, Melany Payoux, Svein Magnussen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

In criminal cases involving eyewitness reports, psychologists or psychiatrists may be recruited as expert witnesses to help triers of facts to evaluate eyewitness statements, on the assumption that psychologists and psychiatrists are real experts, familiar with scientific progress about how memory works. But are they knowledgeable concerning the science of memory? We assessed the knowledge about eyewitness memory of experts from France and Norway, countries having different legal systems, that is inquisitorial and adversarial, respectively. We reanalysed the results of a Norwegian psychologists and psychiatrists survey and compared the results with survey data of a sample of French psychologists and psychiatrists serving as judicial experts. The French sample performed inferior relative to the Norwegian sample. More precisely, discrepancies in correct answers were found on seven critical items related to both experimental and clinical psychology. Such weaknesses in the knowledge about memory are briefly discussed with regard to psychological education and to legal systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-262
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
Volume34
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019

Keywords

  • Expert witness
  • Memory
  • Eyewitness memory
  • Inquisitorial system
  • Adversarial system
  • LAW-ENFORCEMENT
  • CHILD
  • BELIEVE
  • TESTIMONY
  • JUDGES
  • IDENTIFICATION
  • DISSOCIATION
  • MALLEABILITY
  • ENDORSEMENT
  • ACCEPTANCE

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