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Memory and Eye Witness Accounts

            Memory is something we usually take for granted. However, simply imagine what life would be like without it. Every day we would have to learn things all over again (Loftus 3). In general memories are reliable however, precise memory is rarely asked of an individual and when errors are made in our everyday memories a person's life is not at stake. Every day we are bombarded with influences and images some of which we choose to remember and some we choose to forget. The danger of eyewitness testimony is clear; anyone in the world can be accused and convicted of a crime he or she did not commit based solely on the evidence of an eyewitness.
             To what extent can a person's memory be shaped by suggestions? When people witness a serious automobile accident how effectively can they relay the information they observed? If a witness is questioned about an incident, does the line of questions alter the representation of memory? .
             In trying to answer these questions the stages of memory should first be thoroughly understood. There are many stages of memory including acquisition, retention, and retrieval. Memory is not infallible; in truth it is very often wrong. This happens not by our own faults but because of the way it is stored and retrieved. Storing, encoding, and retrieval are the three basic stages of memory. Storing is when new information is introduced into the memory. This is done in everyday life when participating in as simple a task as walking down the street. Encoding is when you attach something to the information that makes it easier to remember. For example, a group of seven certain numbers can be grouped together and stored as a telephone number. Lastly, retrieval is the process by which you find the information after it has been stored. Some information can be very easily retrieved but some things are harder. .
             "Knowledge can be conscious or subconscious. In other words, there's a concept, which I think is accurate, that you never forget, that is, lose your memory with anything you've ever seen or heard, but that your ability to call it into your consciousness is quite limited".

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