Generalizing Eyewitness Reliability Research

Authored by: Steven Penrod , Brian H. Bornstein

Handbook of Eyewitness Psychology

Print publication date:  October  2006
Online publication date:  May  2014

Print ISBN: 9780805881073
eBook ISBN: 9781315805535
Adobe ISBN: 9781317777830


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Hugo Munsterberg’s book On the Witness Stand (1908) is often credited as the first effort in English to bring basic research in memory and perception to bear on questions such as whether psychologists might be better equipped than judges or juries to assess the validity of eyewitness identifications. Although Munsterberg gives passing reference to the European work of Binet, Stern, Lipmann, Jung, Wertheimer, Gross, Sommer, and Aschaffenburg, he also acknowledges that the volume is really a set of “popular sketches, which select only a few problems in which psychology and law come in contact. They deal essentially with the mind of the witness on the witness stand” (p. 11). Indeed, judge G. F. Arnold (1906) should probably be credited with an earlier, more thoughtful, scientific, legally informed, and expansive treatment of the implications of psychological research for the courts.

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