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J Exp Psychol Appl. 2003 Jun;9(2):101-18.

The influence of schemas, stimulus ambiguity, and interview schedule on eyewitness memory over time.

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School of Psychology, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.


The authors examined how a crime schema influenced the types of details witnesses recalled over multiple interviews that varied in delay before the initial interview and between subsequent interviews. Accuracy data showed that, in general, schema-irrelevant traces experienced greater decay than schema-consistent and schema-inconsistent traces after the initial interview and that delaying the initial interview negatively affected recall at the initial interview but led to less decay over subsequent interviews. Ambiguity of the crime stimulus was also manipulated. Witnesses used their schema to interpret ambiguous information and, as a result, made more schema-consistent intrusions and less correct responses and were more likely to report false memories that involved conscious recollection (using the remember-know paradigm).

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