Special Behavior, Brain, Cognition Colloquium: John Wixted (University of California, San Diego) – “Eyewitness Memory and Signal Detection Theory”

March 3, 2020
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Somers Family Hall 216 (Danforth Campus)

“Eyewitness Memory and Signal Detection Theory”

NOTE day and time

Abstract: Basic (curiosity-driven) research typically relies on artificial tasks to answer fundamental questions about memory, attention, perception and decision-making. Such research often yields simple and useful models that serve to protect us from naïve intuitions, but no matter how useful those models are in the laboratory, they are often considered to be about as relevant to the real world as a fire-breathing dragon. That might be true of some models, but it is not true of models based on signal detection theory. Moreover, the assumptions of signal detection theory happen to be at odds with some of the most influential ideas about eyewitness memory that have emerged from applied (problem-driven) research over the last 30 years. For example, contrary to what you might think, (1) eyewitness memory is highly reliable, (2) various conditions that reduce overall accuracy (e.g., high stress, cross-race, short exposure duration, etc.) do not similarly reduce the reliability of eyewitness memory, and (3) simultaneous lineups are superior to sequential lineups. We obviously need applied research to address real-world problems, but, less obviously, models derived from basic research provide a necessary foundation for that endeavor.

Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences Behavior, Brain, Cognition Colloquium

For inquiries contact psych@wustl.edu.