Alcohol intoxication and memory: the reliability of victims and witnesses of sexual assault

Gibbs, Brittany Durnan (2023). Alcohol intoxication and memory: the reliability of victims and witnesses of sexual assault. University of Birmingham. Foren.Psy.D.

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The majority of crime in the United Kingdom takes place in establishments where people buy and consume alcohol. Owing to this, a large proportion of crime takes place against those who are under the influence of alcohol, as well as being witnessed by alcohol intoxicated bystanders. This thesis examines the relationships between alcohol intoxication and memory in the victims and witnesses of crime, and more specifically sexual assault. The aim of the thesis is to better understand the effects that alcohol intoxication has on the memory of victims and witnesses of crime by systematically exploring existing literature on the misinformation effect (Chapter Two). Next, a quantitative study examining the informativeness of uncertainty indicators in identifying accuracy in police interviews, and the impact of alcohol intoxication on accuracy in these interviews is presented (Chapter Three). The psychometric properties of the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) are next discussed, following its use in the screening process of participants in Chapter Three (Chapter Four). Finally, the theoretical and practical implications of the overall findings of the study are presented (Chapter Five).

This thesis identifies areas for future research in order to better understand the effects of alcohol on victim and witness memory, as well as suggesting a novel method of understanding victim accuracy through uncertainty indicators in police interviews. The thesis goes on to identify potential aspects of the police interview process that may introduce error, and suggests ways in which this may be altered in the future to collect full and accurate accounts from victims of sexual assault. The requirement for education of those within the Criminal Justice System regarding the effects of alcohol on memory are also discussed with the aim of improving the perceived credibility of intoxicated victims and witnesses.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Foren.Psy.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Foren.Psy.D.
Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology


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