Remember when you went to a shopping mall and listened to an unfamiliar voice of which you did not see a face? Can you think of a particular voice that you can mentally replay? Now, imagine all the different sounds you encountered in that mall. Do you remember the voice even better now?
How confident are you that it really is the voice you encountered?
This is a question that we as psychology students are interested in. In particular, we investigated whether auditory contextual reinstatement affects confidence in voice recognition accuracy.
This all sounds weird to you? Don’t panic! Let’s have a closer look!
An earwitness is someone who overheard a perpetrator, for instance, on the phone, and reports this to the police. Later, witnesses are usually asked to identify the suspect. Yet, it has been demonstrated that the memory of witness can be unreliable, which could lead to false identification. With further research on the effects of contextual reinstatement on identification confidence the number of false identifications could be reduced. This may make witness testimonies more reliable.
Contextual reinstatement? What is this supposed to be?
It is a method that is intended to enhance the recollection of memories by providing contextual cues. Auditory contextual reinstatement can be used for reconstructing the auditory environment of a crime. You as an earwitness would be asked to remember the voice, choose it from a line-up and indicate your confidence in the recognition. Your confidence level could be important when the jury decides whether the suspect is guilty or not. How confidently would you identify the suspect? Would you still be as confident if you were under oath?