The ageing eyewitness

  • November 6, 2012
The ageing eyewitness

A Gates Cambridge Scholar who is studying eyewitness psychology has won The Manuel Lopez-Rey Prize for her MPhil in criminological research.

A Gates Cambridge Scholar who is studying eyewitness psychology has won The Manuel Lopez-Rey Prize for her MPhil in criminological research.

Katrin Pfeil [2012], who has just begun her PhD, shares the prize with a criminology student. It is awarded by the Department of Criminology at the University of Cambridge for outstanding performance.

Her research focuses on ways to improve the testimony and identification performance of older adult witnesses (60 years and over).

She says that relatively little is known about older witnesses despite the fact that our ageing society means there is likely to be an increase in older adults being witnesses of crimes.

She states: “Bearing in mind older adults’ memory decline, and the fact that they generally tend to perform poorer both in terms of testimony and person identification compared to young adults, it is most important to get further insights into enhancement strategies of their witness performance.”

For her MPhil research she examined the impact of circadian rhythm as a possibility to aid older adults’ person identification performance. She found that a procedure as easy as scheduling the ID session according to the older person’s optimal time of day significantly improved their identification performance, which meant they made significantly more correct identifications when the perpetrator was in the line-up.

More importantly they also made significantly fewer false identifications in target absent line-ups, i.e. when the perpetrator was in fact not among the photographs. Katrin says this is especially important to prevent wrongful convictions.

She states: “Being awarded the Lopez-Rey Graduate Prize to me shows that my research is meaningful and supports me in continuing research in that area during my PhD.”

Picture credit: Ambro and www.freedigitalphotos.net

Latest News

How to speak to young people about genocide

A Gates Cambridge Scholar is to present a very personal BBC Radio 4 series on how to educate young people about genocide and mass trauma next week. Alice Musabende [2016] will present Unspeakable, a five-part series which runs from 2-6 August* on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds.  Alice is a former journalist from Rwanda, […]

The magic of music

Eighteen months ago, after finishing her PhD, Naomi Woo [2014] moved to Winnipeg to take up the role of assistant conductor of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. The role is a first stepping stone to a career conducting orchestras in Canada and internationally. In this position, Naomi has conducted concerts for all audiences, but also had […]

Exploring the neural bases of consciousness

New insights into how neurochemical influences from the brainstem affect the rest of the brain to bring about consciousness could help brain-damaged patients and further our understanding of how consciousness works. A new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [PNAS] by researchers at the Division of Anaesthesia, University of Cambridge investigates the […]

Knowledge gap on zoonotic disease transmission highlighted

The impact of climate change on migration patterns, particularly in areas which depend on agriculture and livestock, could affect zoonotic disease transmission yet little research has been done to date. A new study, led by Gates Cambridge Scholar and Veterinary Science PhD student Dorien Braam [2018], looks at the research that currently exists, but calls […]