I'll Have What He's Having: Social Desirability and Memory Conformity of Eye Witnesses

Ellie Heiss-Moses

Faculty Adviser: Dr. Gerard Barron


In our current legal system, eye witnesses are relied upon heavily to sway judges and juries’ decisions. However, it is not generally considered that the perceptions of the eye witnesses are easily changed others which can cause inaccurate testimony. This study aims to see whether this is due to 


social desirability or memory inaccuracies. First, the participants completed a social desirability questionnaire. They were then shown one of two versions of a crime video and asked to complete a survey about the details of the video immediately after. They returned 24 hours later at which time they spoke to a partner (who had watched the other version of the crime) and asked to complete the same survey as the day before. There was no significant difference between the participants’ social desirability and the number of details they changed. Even with no relationship, this will give us a better idea of how social factors affect eye witnesses.