In the study, Loftus and Erin Harley, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles, conducted a series of experiments with participants who had 20/20 vision or corrected 20/20 vision. They presented participants with small, unrecognizable images of famous people like Julia Roberts, Michael Jordan and George W. Bush, and gradually enlarged the images until the participants could identify each person. The researchers then recorded the size at which each participant recognized the celebrity and then converted this size to a corresponding real-life distance. In another part of the study, Loftus and Harley started with blurred images of the celebrities and then gradually clarified them until the participants could recognize them. The researchers then recorded the amount of blurring that the made the face recognizable.
Studies have shown witnesses are likely to overestimate the duration of the event by twice the amount and greater, especially in situations where the event was of a very short duration. (19) One study involving a simulated bank robbery even resulted in witnesses describing a thirty second event as having taken fifteen minutes! (20) Therefore, we must be wary of those witnesses that have connected a happenstance that appears to be of significant importance because it might actually have occurred minutes or even hours later.