Stopping crime? The effect of crime re-enactments on eyewitness memory

Hayley J. Cullen*, Helen M. Paterson, Celine van Golde

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Crime re-enactments broadcast on television encourage witnesses to provide information regarding unsolved crimes. However, given that eyewitness memory can be altered through exposure to post-event information, it is possible that crime re-enactments may influence the memory of eyewitnesses. The current studies examined the effects of crime re-enactments on eyewitness memory. In two experiments (Experiment 1 with a distractor task, Experiment 2 without a distractor task), participants were shown one of three versions of a crime video that differed in their ambiguity. One week later half of the participants viewed a crime re-enactment. All participants then completed a guided free- and cued-recall task regarding the original event. Across both studies, exposure to the re-enactment did not improve eyewitness memory; instead, participants who viewed the re-enactment were more likely to accept the misinformation in the re-enactment. The findings shed light on potential issues with using crime re-enactments to elicit eyewitness accounts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-309
Number of pages24
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • context reinstatement
  • crime re-enactment
  • crime stoppers
  • eyewitness memory
  • memory
  • misinformation effect
  • post-event information


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