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The Loftus and Palmer study is a laboratory experiment. This means that the study is artificial. The artificiality of the setting can intimidate participants or make them more obedient. This in turn can produce unnatural behavior and results that do not generalize to real life. This can be seen in experiment 2 when 12% of the control group reported seeing broken glass even though they were unaffected by the verb. This could be attributed to the leading question or to demand characteristics when participants look for cues as to what the research is about and behave accordingly, perhaps to please the researcher, especially as the participants in this case are students that may even be familiar with the researcher as they are from the same environment.
In a nutshell, due to the nature of the experiment, it lacks ecological validity.
In a real life situation there would be an element of surprise and an increase in emotion. Basically the eye-witness would be in some way involved, which is not the case while watching the video the eye-witness is not part of the event.
Furthermore, an eye-witness in a real life situation may discuss the event with other people which may alter their memory of the event. Lastly, an eye-witness may think more carefully about giving an answer when in a real life situation when they realize that their answer could judge how innocent or guilty a person is, they may hesitate and realize the importance, although when taking part in a study they may just give an answer without as much thought.
The participants were students meaning that the researchers used an opportunity sample. This means that all the participants share certain common characteristics and are not representative of society, these may include age, driving experience and educational background. If the study used a random sample the results could be generalized. This study was very useful because it introduced the notion of reconstructive hypothesis and that eye-witness testimony isnt’t reliable. This study, and studies similar to it, have led to changes nowadays as to how the police question and use the information given by witnesses. Certain other details that could also have influenced the participants answers include: the colour or make of the car; the driver; the ability to estimate speed.
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