The wildcard: A simple technique for improving children's target-absent lineup performance



We attempted to increase children's willingness to reject target-absent lineups by making identification and rejection response procedures highly comparable. Eight- to eleven-year-old children (N = 159) were briefly exposed to a confederate in the context of a staged event, and 24–48 hours later completed either a target-present or target-absent photographic lineup task. Within each lineup condition, children were either told to tell the experimenter if the target was not present (control condition), or provided with an additional photograph of a silhouetted figure with a large question mark superimposed (wildcard condition), and asked to point to this photograph if the target was not present. The wildcard increased children's accuracy on the target-absent lineup without affecting their target-present performance. In fact, performance was increased to a point at which target-absent and target-present accuracy did not differ significantly. These findings offer a promising, easily-implemented intervention for reducing children's eyewitness identification errors. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.