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Investigating the ease-of-retrieval effect in an eyewitness context

Groncki, R, Beaudry, JL and Sauer, JD ORCID: 0000-0002-0872-3647 2021 , 'Investigating the ease-of-retrieval effect in an eyewitness context' , Memory, vol. 29, no. 2 , 234–254 , doi: 10.1080/09658211.2021.1882502.

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The way in which individuals think about their own cognitive processes plays an importantrole in various domains. When eyewitnesses assess their confidence in identificationdecisions, they could be influenced by how easily relevant information comes to mind.This ease-of-retrieval effect has a robust influence on people’s cognitions in a variety ofcontexts (e.g., attitudes), but it has not yet been applied to eyewitness decisions. In threestudies, we explored whether the ease with which eyewitnesses recall certain memorialinformation influenced their identification confidence assessments and related testimonyrelevantjudgements (e.g., perceived quality of view). We manipulated the number ofreasons participants gave to justify their identification (Study 1; N = 343), and also thenumber of instances they provided of a weak or strong memory (Studies 2a & 2b; Ns =350 & 312, respectively). Across the three studies, ease-of-retrieval did not affecteyewitnesses’ confidence or other testimony-relevant judgements. We then tried – andfailed – to replicate Schwarz, N., Bless, H., Strack, F., Klumpp, G., Rittenauer-Schatka, H., &Simons, A. (1991. Ease of retrieval as information: Another look at the availabilityheuristic. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 195–202. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.61.2.195) original ease-of-retrieval finding (Study 3; N = 661). In three of the fourstudies, ease-of-retrieval had the expected effect on participants’ perceived task difficulty;however, frequentist and Bayesian testing showed no evidence for an effect onconfidence or assertiveness ratings.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Groncki, R and Beaudry, JL and Sauer, JD
Keywords: eyewitness, identification, confidence, ease of retreival, metacognition
Journal or Publication Title: Memory
Publisher: Psychology Press
ISSN: 0965-8211
DOI / ID Number: 10.1080/09658211.2021.1882502
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Copyright 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

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