An Examination of the interaction between scene complexity and duration on the weapon focus effect
(2016) An Examination of the interaction between scene complexity and duration on the weapon focus effect, no. 62.
During a situation of which a crime has taken place, a weapon has been found to have a detrimental impact for the details of the event. Explanations of why this phenomenon, known as the weapon focus effect, occurs, has divided psychological literature. Previous research has explored how factors of scene-duration and scene-complexity can affect this weapon focus. This current study aims to build on the literature by exploring the main effects of object-threat, object-unusualness, scene-complexity and scene-duration in a multifactorial design. Target-present and target absent lineups were also included in conjunction with the main effects in order to further understand the factors that elicit a weapon focus. Scenecomplexity was found to be significant in measures of cued-recall, with scene-duration found to be significant in recognition scores. An interaction between scene-duration, object-threat and object-unusualness was also observed in recognition scores. Significant effects were of object-unusualness as well as scene-complexity were found to result in lower proportions of correct identifications in target-present lineups. An interaction was also discovered in correct identifications of target-present lineups between scene-duration and object-threat. The results suggest that the variable of scene-duration elicits a detrimental effect to memory recall. General implications and recommendations for future research are also deliberated.