In the criminal justice system, eyewitness testimony can make or break a case. Yet our eyes can deceive us and memory can be a fickle friend. So how much can we really trust eyewitness testimony?
Psychological research reveals a lot of deeply troubling facts about human perception and memory that should make us very skeptical of eyewitness testimony. Of course, we don’t need science to tell us that if we witness something from too far away, or if it’s too dark, or if we’re intoxicated, then our testimony is not going to be very reliable. That just seems like common sense. But common sense may also lead us astray when it comes to the reliability of eyewitness testimony, and that is what a lot of the research on this topic is telling us.