Sleep quality affects eyewitness memory of a crime, according to scientists
The research found that eyewitnesses to a crime who sleep before being given a police lineup are much less likely to pick an innocent person out of a lineup, at least when the guilty person is not in the lineup.
This study, published in PLOS ONE, is the first scientific investigation into how sleep affects eyewitness memory of a crime.
“It’s concerning that more people aren’t making the correct decision during lineups; this suggests our memories are not super accurate and that’s a problem when you’re dealing with the consequences of the criminal justice system,” said Michelle Stepan, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in psychology.
“Putting someone in jail is a big decision based on somebody’s memory of a crime,” she added.
The team conducted an experiment in which about 200 participants watched a video of a crime where a man planted a bomb on a rooftop. After 12 hours, they then viewed one of the two computer lineups of six similar-looking people where one lineup included the perpetrator, while the other did not.