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A Further Note on the Age Index of a Population by LaBlanc T. J., Pearl R.

By LaBlanc T. J., Pearl R.

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A longitudinal investigation of the reliability of memories for trauma and other emotional experiences. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 18, 1143 –1159. Peters, D. (1988). Eyewitness memory and arousal in a natural setting. In M. Gruneberg, P. Morris, & R. ), Practical aspects of memory: Current research and issues ( pp. 89 – 94). New York: John Wiley & Sons. Pickel, K. L. (1998). ” Memory, 6, 277–295. , & White, S. (1988). Very long-term memories of the first year in college. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition, 14, 709 –715.

The arousal, in turn, will (according to Easterbrook) cause a narrowing of attention, and this fits with the data – good memory for items at the center of the crime (the weapon), but poor memory for items at the periphery. A number of investigators, though, have suggested an alternative way to think about the weapon-focus pattern. Perhaps eyewitnesses focus on the weapon, not because they are aroused, but because the weapon is by far the most interesting aspect of the visual input. After all, what could be more important to a crime victim than to know whether he or she is in immediate danger and, to this end, nothing in the scene is more important than knowing whether the weapon is cocked and pointed at him or her.

As it turns out, evidence suggests that both of these mechanisms – one hinging on arousal, and one hinging on the weapon’s visual importance – play a role in producing weapon focus. In several studies, weapon focus has been observed even in the absence of emotional arousal, indicating the weapon’s potency as an “attention magnet” (Kramer, Buckhout, & Eugenio, 1990; Loftus, Loftus, & Messo, 1987; Maass & Köhnken, 1989). Other studies indicate that it may be the unusualness of the weapon, and not the threat, that produces weapon focus (Pickel, 1998).

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