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The Appearance-Change Instruction Does Not Improve Line-up Identification Accuracy


  • An earlier report on this research was presented at the 2012 meeting of the American Psychology–Law Society.


In many jurisdictions, police instruct a witness, before presenting a photo line-up, that the suspect's appearance may be different in the photo than it was at the time of the crime. The experiments reported here examine the impact of this ‘appearance-change instruction’ (ACI), exploring its effects with different crimes, perpetrators, line-ups, and different phrasings of the ACI. The data indicate that the ACI increases witnesses' willingness to make a choice from a line-up but does not increase accuracy. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.