How do emotions affect witnesses?


When it comes to witnesses of a crime, they are often influenced by their own emotions.

Testimony and witnesses

You have to understand that unlike a security camera that records a criminal event, and where, for many times the recording is not going to vary, in contrast, witnesses have feelings and emotions regarding the fact lived , the more the "worse" the crime.
In fact, many times when the crimes are "horrible" the witnesses refuse to cooperate with the justice or the police to avoid remembering the feelings of horror that provokes that memory.
Moreover, the more times that memory is accessed by the witness, sometimes one lives with greater emotional burden, due to an effect of sensitization towards the fact lived.
In fact, sometimes the defense lawyer's "defense" is precisely "attacking" witnesses to "make them doubt" or to show how emotionally shocked they are to that fact and therefore to be considered an "invalid" witness.
It must be taken into account that there is a big difference between the witness of a minor robbery, or even of an insult in the street, to a fight with a white weapon or a sexual aggression.
The emotions that one or the other Act also goes in relation to their gravity, the proximity of the witness, or the emotional closeness with the victim, but how do emotions affect the witnesses?


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Evaluating the Testimony

This is what he has tried to find out with a research conducted from the Center for Psychological Research, Faculty of Psychology, University of Minho (Portugal) along with the Center on Cognition and Decision making, Faculty of Economics, university National Research (Russia) whose results have been published during the 2018 in the scientific journal Psychology.
Forty three university students, aged between 18 and 21, of whom 28 were women, participated in the study.
All of them were given a test to evaluate that they were not incursions in depressive processes through the Beck Depression inventory, to avoid influencing the results as a foreign variable.
Half of the participants went through a test of induction of low-intensity negative arousal, while the other half was passed by another high intensity, seeking to generate a small or large emotional "excitation" negative prior to the study , that is to say causing more or less fear and anxiety in the participants.
Later they had to watch a short video where they saw a theft of a mobile followed by a struggle with the thief and the flight of this with the loot.
After half of the participants in each sub-group were asked about the most accurate alternative to the fact seen and their level of trust; While the other half asked them to evaluate the three most likely options and their level of trust.


Emotion and testimony

The results show that there is a greater precision of the peripheral information that central regardless of the level of excitation induced in the experiment, increase that in the case of the choice of multiple options was expressed so much at the time of discard Incorrect options such as when selecting the right ones.
Among the limitations of the study is the small number of participants and with very young ages, so it is not known whether these data will be maintained throughout life or change over time.
Similarly, there has been no distinctive analysis according to gender despite having participated in the study both men and women, so it is not possible to know if the previous effects are equal or different depending on the gender of the witness.
Finally, the experimental situation to which witnesses have been subjected can be considered as a "habitual" and "low-gravity" situation, considered as petty theft; More research is therefore needed in this regard before the results can be extrapolated to more serious crimes.
Despite the foregoing, the data indicate that the excitability associated with a stress situation plays a decisive role in improving the tests of recognition and memory, and thus the accuracy of the witness, not being affected these results by suffering a greater or Lower level of fear or anxiety
Therefore witnesses, despite the emotional proximity, the "cruelty" of the act or physical proximity, are not going to be harmed by it their testimonies, being equally precise to which can offer a witness who witnessed the act from a greater distance, did not know the Victim or it was a "misdemeanor."