When accurate and inaccurate eyewitnesses look the same: a limitation of the ‘pop-out’ effect and the 10- to 12-second rule

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Abstract

Research has found support for a ‘pop-out effect’ that occurs when witnesses who accurately identify a criminal from a lineup are faster and uses more automatic processing than inaccurate witnesses who misidentify a foil. We present evidence that this finding may not occur with biased lineups. Witnesses to a mock theft were asked to make a lineup identification and three types of witnesses were compared: (1) accurate witnesses who identified a thief, (2) inaccurate witnesses who misidentified a foil who was more similar looking to the thief than the other lineup foils and (3) inaccurate witnesses who misidentified a foil who was not more similar in appearance to the thief than the other lineup foils. Accurate witnesses who identified the thief and inaccurate witnesses who misidentified a foil more similar to the thief than the other lineup foils were indistinguishable; both were faster, used more automatic recognition processes and were more confident than inaccurate witnesses who identified other foils. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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