What makes a good eyewitness? And why do mistakes sometimes occur when eyewitnesses are asked to identify suspected criminals? Psychologists at the University of Birmingham are inviting members of the public to join in an interactive exhibit at Thinktank, Birmingham's science museum, to find out more – and to take part in a real science experiment.
Experts from the University’s Applied Memory Lab, in the School of Psychology, created the exhibit to offer visitors the chance to find out about the different types of line-up identification procedures used by police forces and to think about why we tend to remember certain details of an event more than others.
The exhibit will also introduce a new 3D interactive line-up identification procedure developed at the University of Birmingham, and give children, adolescents and adults the opportunity to take part in a real science experiment. During a fun, 10 minute study, participants can test their memory accuracy and explore how they judge the likely accuracy of their memory answers.
Dr Melissa Colloff, of the University of Birmingham’s School of Psychology, says: “Eyewitnesses can sometimes mistakenly identify innocent persons as criminals, and this can lead to the wrongful conviction of innocent people. Eyewitness can also sometimes find it difficult to recall particular details about an event. We don’t fully understand why these mistakes occur, and what qualities might make someone a good eyewitness – and that’s what we’re trying to find out through this interactive exhibit.”
The exhibit is led by Dr Colloff, together with Dr Heather Flowe and Ms Danielle Hett, in the University’s Applied Memory Lab. It was created and delivered by undergraduate and postgraduate students and took place previously during half term holidays last October.
More than 1,600 children and their carers have already engaged with the exhibit. The project has been so successful, it has been awarded the University’s first ever Light of Understanding Award, an institutional award for Excellence in Public Engagement, and has been granted Alumni Impact Fund funding from The University of Birmingham for two consecutive years.
The exhibition will run at Thinktank from the 27 – 31 May 2019 as part of the museum’s ‘meet the experts’ programme. Come along and test your own memory and find out how good a witness you really are.
For further information please contact Beck Lockwood, Press Office, University of Birmingham, tel 0121 414 2772.
‘Are you a good eyewitness’ will run at Thinktank Museum from 27 May 2019 - 31 May 2019, from 10am – 4pm.
The exhibit was funded by the University of Birmingham’s Alumni Fund and the Centre for Crime Justice and Policing, Birmingham.