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The weapon focus effect is the tendency for witnesses who observe an armed criminal to direct their attention toward the weapon so that they fail to encode and remember information about the perpetrator's physical appearance as accurately as they would have if no weapon had been visible. This effect can have important consequences for the investigation of a crime, as the police often rely on witnesses'descriptions of a perpetrator as they attempt to identify a suspect.

In lab experiments investigating weapon focus, researchers typically expose participant-witnesses to slide sequences, videos, or live enactments in which a target person holds a weapon (in the experimental condition) or a neutral object (in the control condition), although sometimes in the control condition the target is empty-handed. Several kinds of ...

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