In an experiment, volunteers witnessed a simulated crime. After they witnessed the simulation the volunteers were fir...

Steph on April 15, 2019

Please explain

Please explain this question.

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shunhe on January 3, 2020

Hi @Steph,

Thanks for the question! This is a pretty wordy question stem that comes near the end - they're definitely testing your endurance with this kind of question. The stimulus tells us that there's an experiment where volunteers see a crime and then testify about it afterwards. The first lawyer tries to make them testify inaccurately, the second lawyer tries to make them testify accurately. We are met with an unintuitive result: there's a group of people who are on average more accurate during the first lawyer's questioning (recall, the first lawyer tries to make them inaccurate) are on average more inaccurate during the second lawyer's questioning (who tries to make them more accurate). In other words, they're performing the opposite of the way we might expect. The question is asking us for an explanation that helps resolve this paradox. One possible explanation: recall that these witnesses are being compared to other ones, and maybe it's just the case that they're stubborn and stick to their stories, whereas the other witnesses are more easily swayed by the lawyers' influences. It might help to look at an example: say the average group of witnesses has 5 inaccurate details with the first lawyer and 1 with the second lawyer, but our group of witnesses has 3 inaccurate details with both lawyers. Then they conform with the specifications in the stimulus.

(A) is wrong because if this group of witnesses was more observant about details, it explains why they're more accurate with the first lawyer, but not why they're more inaccurate with the second lawyer.

(B) is wrong for the same reason as (A). Overall better memories holds up with more accurate memories, but not with less accurate memories with the second lawyer.

(C) matches up with our initial thoughts and is our answer. These witnesses aren't as easily influenced as the other ones, and so the number of inaccurate details they give just doesn't fluctuate as much.

(D) is wrong because if they were unclear about the details at first and remembered more accurately as questioning went on, we'd expect them to be more inaccurate in the beginning and more accurate in the end.

(E) is wrong because it doesn't necessarily resolve the paradox. Maybe the witnesses do give testimony with more overall details; however, this doesn't explain what we're told in the stimulus.

Hope this helps! It's a lot, so if you have any further questions, feel free to ask them.