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Facilitating Accuracy in Showup Identification Procedures: The Effects of the Presence of Stolen Property


Correspondence to: Andrew M. Smith, 62 Arch Street, Humphrey Hall, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 3N6.



Law enforcement personnel regularly present suspects to eyewitnesses using showups. In this study, we examined the impact of the presence of stolen property on live showup identification performance. Two hundred seventy university students were exposed to a simulated theft. During the subsequent showup, we manipulated the presence of the target and stolen property. Binary logistic regression analyses indicated that both factors independently predicted the accuracy of identification decisions. Participants were more accurate when the target was in the showup and when the stolen property was present during the identification. Consistent with the item, context, and ensemble theory of recognition, the presence of stolen property led to an increase in sensitivity, suggesting ensemble formation. Future research on showups should continue to examine contextual variables that may lead to changes in sensitivity or criterion shift. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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