Real Talk

Eyewitness Inaccuracy in Mystery Shopping

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Eyewitness identification is often used in courtroom trials, and, of course, in mystery shopping. However, eyewitness testimonies are not as accurate as many people believe them to be. More often than not, they are loaded with inaccuracies based on several different factors. However, before we go into the factors that make eyewitness testimonies inaccurate, let’s talk about how human memory works. 

Reconstructing Memories

The total, and often uncritical acceptance of eyewitness accounts, stems from a popular misconception of how the human memory actually works. The majority of people believe that memory works in the same way a video does. When you want to rewind and replay a video, you get the exact same video every single time. However, the art of remembering is not even remotely close to the same way memory works. When you remember something, you remember it in fragments or bits and pieces, which ultimately leaves you susceptible to the implementation of false memories. 

What Are False Memories?

While they may sound like something straight out of a science fiction movie, false memories are actually quite common. Not only are they common, but they are incredibly easy to plant. A false memory works like this, a person asks you questions about a real event that either did or did not occur. If the event did occur, that person places details into their questions that could have potentially happened, but ultimately did not. False memories also work when a person asking a question asks something that could have potentially happened but did not. Whether it was a full blown event or a minor detail that changes the entire event, it did not happen. 

How Eyewitness Inaccuracy Effects Accuracy in Mystery Shopping.

Traditional mystery shopping relies 100% on eyewitness accounts. The problem is not just with the mystery shopper’s recount of what happened, but also in the brain’s ability to recount and remember. As time passes on, between the actual event and the time the shopper sits down to answer on their experience, many other details and memories have their chance to move and distort what actually happened. 

The Value of Video Mystery Shopping

With video mystery shopping services, the inaccuracy associated with eyewitness accounts is completely eliminated. Not only that, but the time in which a company can collect and implement the data from the shopper’s experience is also shortened. Additionally, video mystery shopping helps to eliminate any personal bias a shopper may have against a store, an employee or a specific brand. 

Eyewitness inaccuracy is an extremely common form of error, however, it doesn’t have to be part of a business’ data. With RBG, businesses can have access to resources that allow them to have customer service experiences that go above and beyond the norm. Learn more about how our retail mystery shopping programs or our video mystery shopping programs can help to improve your business today. 

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