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Online Activity: Manipulating Eyewitness Testimony

One study that all Psychology students read about was conducted in Loftus and Palmer in 1974. They showed that participants' recollections of an event can be influenced by the words used to describe that event. This study is informally referred to as the "hit, smash, crash" study.


Now you can have your students go through the study online. Below is a link to an online version of this study in which participants view a brief auto accident and are then asked to estimate the speed of one of the cars just before the accident occurs. At the end of the activity students can compare speed estimates from other students to whom the cars were described differently. Check it out and if you'd like to share this with your students, feel free.  If you'd like a copy of the google files used to create the activity, feel free to contact the Cengage community manager, Michael Britt (


Click here to participate in this online activity.



Inspiration for this activity:

  • Loftus, E.F. & Palmer, J.C. (1974) Reconstruction of auto-mobile destruction: An example of the interaction between language and memory. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behaviour, 13, 585 -589

That was very interesting.  It demonstrates how certain words can affect a person's perception of an event.

Thanks @Nicholas yea, this was not too hard to put together.  The results so far have followed along the same lines as the original research. Feel free to get in touch if you want all the google files that I put together to make it.


Nice way to get my students "thinking" and discussing with one another!


Interesting indeed. I believe the wording does have an influence. "Zoom" is associated with a higher speed which might have affected a participant's thinking. Good exercise for a Psychology class!