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Investigating the ease-of-retrieval effect in an eyewitness context


Groncki, R and Beaudry, JL and Sauer, JD, Investigating the ease-of-retrieval effect in an eyewitness context, Memory, 29, (2) pp. 234-254. ISSN 0965-8211 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1080/09658211.2021.1882502


The way in which individuals think about their own cognitive processes plays an important role in various domains. When eyewitnesses assess their confidence in identification decisions, they could be influenced by how easily relevant information comes to mind. This ease-of-retrieval effect has a robust influence on people’s cognitions in a variety of contexts (e.g., attitudes), but it has not yet been applied to eyewitness decisions. In three studies, we explored whether the ease with which eyewitnesses recall certain memorial information influenced their identification confidence assessments and related testimonyrelevant judgements (e.g., perceived quality of view). We manipulated the number of reasons participants gave to justify their identification (Study 1; N = 343), and also the number of instances they provided of a weak or strong memory (Studies 2a & 2b; Ns = 350 & 312, respectively). Across the three studies, ease-of-retrieval did not affect eyewitnesses’ confidence or other testimony-relevant judgements. We then tried – and failed – to replicate Schwarz, N., Bless, H., Strack, F., Klumpp, G., Rittenauer-Schatka, H., & Simons, A. (1991. Ease of retrieval as information: Another look at the availability heuristic. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 195–202. doi:10.1037/0022- 3514.61.2.195) original ease-of-retrieval finding (Study 3; N = 661). In three of the four studies, ease-of-retrieval had the expected effect on participants’ perceived task difficulty; however, frequentist and Bayesian testing showed no evidence for an effect on confidence or assertiveness ratings.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:eyewitness, identification, confidence, ease of retreival, metacognition
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Applied and developmental psychology
Research Field:Forensic psychology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Sauer, JD (Associate Professor Jim Sauer)
ID Code:143480
Year Published:2021
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2021-03-19
Last Modified:2021-09-22

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