(a) Young persons have
limited past experiences on which to base their
interpretations, yet, depending
upon their interest, they may make accurate
For example, how
many American boys can quickly recognize and
identify the make and model of an
automobile, but would not likely perceive details
of the driver, the license number,
or make and condition of the tires.
(b) Normally, the mature person has had many and varied experiences on
which to base his interpretations. However, this will be limited to occurrences in
his area of residence and employment. Thus, a lifelong resident of a city might be
incapable of describing a farm scene; and a native of a tropical island could
hardly be expected to describe in minute detail a high-speed motor vehicle
(c) In the case of elderly persons, weakness may prevent proper
patterned interpretation, or experiences may be so varied and interrelated as to
result in confusion.
(d) Specialists may have developed acute perception within their fields
but be unobservant in other fields. For example, an artist will be acutely aware
and take note of color, form, and proportion but may fail to note or interpret
properly sounds, or odors. A mechanic may be quick to observe the sound of a motor
or other indications of the state of repair of an automobile but may be inexact in
describing the appearance and actions of the driver.
(2) Physiological Influences.
Defects in the physical condition may
greatly affect ability to observe accurately and to interpret properly.
factors as age, disease, injury, underdevelopment, and undernourishment must be
considered. Pain, hunger, fatigue, and unnatural positions of the body may cause a
witness to interpret, inaccurately that which he would normally place into proper
perspective. The following factors should be considered:
(a) A person of short or tall stature may misinterpret the size of
For example, a person six feet tall may appear very tall to an
observer who is himself only 4 feet 10 inches tall, while the same six-footer would
likely appear to be of normal height to an observer who is 5 feet 10 inches tall.
(b) The senses of hearing and touch of a blind person are usually
developed far beyond those of a person with normal vision. Thus, he may perceive
sounds or note details of objects touched which the normal person may fail to
(c) The senses of taste and smell are subject to distortion by physical
disorders and by external stimuli.
The presence of a strong taste or odor may
conceal other tastes or odors; therefore, these two senses are considered the least
reliable of the senses.