The Elusive Effects of Alcohol Intoxication on Visual Attention and Eyewitness Memory

Alistair J. Harvey, Wendy Kneller, Alison C. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alcohol is a contributing factor in many crimes, yet little is known of its effects on eyewitness memory and face identification. Some authors suggest that intoxication impairs attention and memory, particularly for peripheral scene information, but the data supporting this claim are limited. The present study therefore sought to determine whether (i) intoxicated participants spend less time fixating on peripheral regions of crime images than sober counterparts, (ii) whether less information is recognised from image regions receiving fewer gaze fixations and (iii) whether intoxicated participants are less able to identify the perpetrator of a crime than sober participants. Contrary to expectations, participants' ability to explore and subsequently recognise the contents of the stimulus scenes was unaffected by alcohol, suggesting that the relationship between intoxication, attention and eyewitness memory requires closer scrutiny.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-624
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number5
Early online date30 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2013
Externally publishedYes


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