Date of Award

Fall 12-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Psychology



First Advisor or Mentor

Deryn Strange

Second Reader

Charles B. Stone

Third Advisor

Kristyn A. Jones


Although body-worn cameras (BWCs) are expected to be objective tools for increasing police transparency and accountability, research refutes the idea that people can objectively view footage. Instead, research shows that people’s personal biases—for example, the extent to which people view the police like themselves, measured by the Identification with Police Scale (IPS; Tyler & Fagan, 2008) —shape how they view and interpret BWC footage (Jones, Crozier, & Strange, 2017). Additionally, studies of memory distortion reveal that people can come to remember traumatic events as worse than they originally experienced (Strange & Takarangi, 2012). Taken together, then, when viewing traumatic BWC footage, it is possible that viewers will misremember what they witnessed. What is not clear, however, is how bias and trauma interact to magnify or diminish the level of memory distortion one may experience. In the present study, we instructed participants (N=144) to complete the Identification with Police Scale (IPS) before watching an emotionally disturbing BWC video depicting a police-civilian encounter. Based on a group of independent raters’ categorization of the video, we broke the footage down into a series of short clips and removed some crux (e.g., the civilian being tased) and non-crux (e.g., backup arriving on scene) clips. We intended to have some participants receive context information justifying the officer’s actions before viewing the film, and some not, however a survey flow error meant that everyone received the context information, regardless of condition; this error barred us from determining the impact of context information on memory distortion. Participants then completed the Impact of Events Scale-Revised (IES-R, Weiss & Marmar, 1996) – used to measure the psychological impact of the footage. After 24-hours, participants completed the IES-R a second time. We then tested participants’ memory for what they had seen and had not seen, as well as their confidence in their memory. Our results on memory distortion replicated those of previous studies employing a similar paradigm and provide evidence that people can come to remember BWC footage as more traumatic than their initial experience. As BWC footage is becoming commonplace in society, this research develops our understanding of the impact that viewing emotionally disturbing police-civilian encounters has on memory.


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