Scene Complexity and Exposure Duration: A Multifactorial Investigation of the Weapon Focus Effect
(2015) Scene Complexity and Exposure Duration: A Multifactorial Investigation of the Weapon Focus Effect, no. 48.
The presence of a weapon has been found to detrimentally affect memory for events but the literature is divided as to why the phenomenon, known as the weapon focus effect, appears. In addition there are factors such as scene complexity and stimuli duration that have been implicated in affecting weapon focus onset that have not been explored through experimental manipulation. The current study employed a multifactorial design in order to explore main effects of object threat, object usualness, exposure duration and scene complexity on the onset of the weapon focus effect. Target-present and target-absent lineups were also used to explore the weapon focus effect. Scene complexity and exposure duration had highly significant effects on measures of memory employed. Evidence to support the threat explanation of weapon focus was found in memory recall scores with no effect of object usualness observed. A significant effect of threat was found to result in higher proportions of correct identifications in target-present lineups. Therefore no weapon focus effect was found in lineup responses and a confounding variable of target actor may have affected the reliability of the findings. General implications and recommendations for future research are discussed.