Psychology
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Psychology

Centre for Memory and Law

"The Centre for Memory and Law forms an international, interdisciplinary collaboration between academics and professionals who share a common interest in understanding the role of memory and how it serves as evidence. Our interests are far reaching but currently focus on witness memory reports in the media, legal cases, accounts of war, political oppression and applications for immigrant status."

Mission statement

The nature of specific memories and memory more generally is not well understood beyond the domain of memory researchers. However recent findings from memory research has important implications for the use of memory as evidence, not only in the case of the eyewitness testimony, but also for how jurors, barristers, and judges weight evidence. For example, in the legal arena alone, erroneous beliefs about memory have led to unsafe convictions - Innocence Project, USA.

These misunderstandings of memory can also be damaging, where in cases of rape, for example, memory as the major form of evidence is often undervalued due to circumstances surrounding the rape incident (only 18% of reported rapes result in a prosecution, and less than 7% in a conviction; Ministry of Justice, Home Office and National Office of Statistics 2013: 7).

The mission of this Research Centre is to produce research that has mutual benefit to both scientific and forensic inquiry. We, as scientists have been able to progress our theoretical understanding of how memory develops, is reconstructed, and can be distorted. In light of this, practitioners have been able to develop new techniques and protocols for examining memory in forensic fields. However, there are still considerable gaps in what we have recently discovered in the scientific study of memory and common beliefs still held about memory.  Our hope is that the relationship between the scientific community and other professions continues to develop so that what becomes known about memory might become better disseminated and influence policy changes, procedures, and practices in important forensic contexts.

Centre members

Centre Directors

  • Director: Prof. Martin A. Conway
  • Director: Prof. Mark L. Howe
  • Associate Director: Dr Lauren M. Knott

City, University of London members

  • Prof. Chris Greer (Department of Sociology)
  • Dr Christopher McDowell (Department of International Politics)
  • Prof. Howard Tumber (Department of Journalism)
  • Dr Rosie Waterhouse (Department of Journalism)
  • Joanna Rich (PhD student).

Affiliate members

  • Dr Sarah R. Garner (Researcher with the Police Foundation, UK)
  • Madeline Greenhalgh (Director, British False Memory Society)
  • Dr Catherine Loveday (University of Westminster)
  • Dr Ula Cartwright-Finch (Senior Associate in Herbet Smith Freehills’ International Arbitration practice, London)
  • Prof. Michael E. Lamb (University of Cambridge)
  • Dr Scott Cole (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Aarhus University, Denmark)

Visiting Professors

  • Prof. Charles J. Brainerd
    Professor of Human Development,
    Cornell University
  • Prof. Stephen Ceci
    Professor of Developmental Psychology,
    College of Human Ecology, Cornell University
  • Prof. Gail Goodman
    Distinguished Professor of Psychology,
    University of California, Davis
  • Prof. Terry Honess
    Honorary Professor of Psychology,
    City, University of London
  • Prof. Elizabeth F. Loftus
    Distinguished Professor
    Psychology & Social Behaviour
    Criminology, Law & Society
    Cognitive Sciences
    School of Law
    University of California, Irvine

Visiting Fellows

  • Dr Henry Otgaar
    Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Clinical Psychological Science, & Forensic Psychology, Maastricht University

Recent publications

  • Conway, M.A., Howe, M.L., & Knott, L.M. (in press). The Modern View of Human Memory and Its Forensic Implications. In B.K. Puri & I.H. Treasaden (Eds.), Textbook of Forensic Psychiatry. Abingdon, Oxford: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Howe, M. L. and Knott, L. M. (2015). The fallibility of memory in judicial processes: Lessons from the past and their modern consequences. Memory.
  • Conway, M. A., & Howe, M. L. (Eds.) (2013). Memory and the law: Case studies [Special Issue]. Memory, 21(5).
  • Howe, M. L. (2013). Memory development: Implications for adults recalling childhood experiences in the courtroom. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 14, 869-876.
  • Howe, M. L. (2013). Feats of early memory: Courtroom tales of what adults claim to remember about early childhood events. In R. E. Holliday and T. A. Marche (Eds.), Child Forensic Psychology (pp. 39-64).  New York: Palgrave-Macmillan.
  • Howe, M. L. (2013). Memory lessons from the courtroom: Reflections on being a memory expert on the witness stand. Memory, 21, 576-583.
  • Howe, M. L., Garner, S. R., & Patel, M. (2013). The positive consequences of false memories. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 31, 652-665.
  • Otgaar, H., Howe, M. L., Peters, M., Sauerland, M., & Raymaekers, L. (2013). Developmental trends in different types of spontaneous false memories: Implications for the legal field. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 31, 666-682.
  • Conway, M. A., & Howe, M. L. (Chairs) (November, 2013). Memory & The Law: Lessons from Cases. Governing Board Symposium, Psychonomics Society, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • Wells, C., Morrison, C.M., & Conway, M.A. (2013). Adult recollections of childhood memories: What details can be recalled: Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/17470218.2013.856451
  • Conway, M.A. (2012). The modern view of human memory and what it means for witness memory. Association of Lawyers for Children Newsletter, April 2012.
  • Conway, M.A. (2012). Ten things the law and others should know about human memory. In L. Nadel & W. Sinnott-Armstrong (Eds.), Memory and Law, (pp.359-372). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • The British Psychological Society, Research Board (2008). Guidelines on Memory and The Law: Recommendations from the Scientific Study of Human Memory. Leicester: The British Psychological Society. ISBN 978-1-85433-473-2.

Recent grants affiliated with the Centre

  • Economic and Social Research Council UK: "Examining emotion specific memories: An investigation into the persistence of true and false memories." Grant awarded to cover 2015-2018 (£352,236 for 3 years; Principle Investigator: L.M. Knott; Co-investigator: M.L. Howe).

Resources

  • The British False Memory Society Archive is held at City, University of London. The archive is regularly consulted by researchers and contains a repository of cases (some rare), original papers, a small library, and a wide range of media coverage of false memories digitized on CDs.