Eyewitness testimony after three months: A field study on memory for an incident in everyday life

Makiko Naka, Yukio Itsukushima, Yuji Itoh

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6 Citations (Scopus)


There are cases when one is asked to give testimony about an incident that was of no significance until a certain point in time, after which it suddenly became important. Based upon a real case in which a salesclerk gave eyewitness testimony and identified a suspect from a photograph 4 months after the sale, we studied the accuracy of memory for such an incident in everyday life in natural settings. Eighty-six salesclerks served as subjects. A confederate (customer) visited a store and bought some goods from a clerk. Three months later, the clerk was asked to remember the person (customer) and the event (the sales exchanges), and to identify a photograph of the customer. Half the subjects remembered the details of the person and the event and, of these, two-thirds were accurate. However, although two-thirds of the subjects claimed to identify the customer from a photograph, only 13% were accurate. Correlational analyses showed that the quantity (duration of the contact) as well as the quality (the clerk's impression of unusualness of the customer, etc.) predicted accuracy of memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-24
Number of pages11
JournalJapanese Psychological Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Everyday memory
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Incidental learning
  • Memory for the person and the event
  • Photo identification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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