Children as witnesses: A comparison of lineup versus showup identification methods



The goal of this study was to compare children's and adults eyewitness identification accuracy when presented with an array of possible suspects (‘lineup’) versus one suspect (‘showup’). Kindergarten children and adults were shown a slide show of a staged theft and subsequently asked whether, of the photo or photos shown them, the perpetrator was present or not. Children were more likely than adults to identify the perpetrator correctly when that suspect was present in the lineup or showup. Children were also more likely than adults to make an incorrect identification of another person when the perpetrator's photo was not present in the lineup or showup. Because false positive identification errors are more difficult to detect with the showup than the lineup, use of the showup may be less appropriate with child witnesses than with adults due to children's greater tendency to make positive identifications.