Simultaneous and sequential lineups: decision processes of accurate and inaccurate eyewitnesses



The cognitive processes and decision-making strategies of eyewitnesses were tested for their predictive qualities in determining the accuracy of identifications from lineups. The sequential lineup presentation was compared with the traditionally employed simultaneous lineup under culprit (target) present and culprit absent conditions. Consistent with previous research the sequential presentation resulted in an equivalent number of correct identifications compared to the simultaneous lineup but reduced false identification rates. Although sequential lineups were found to be associated with the use of absolute strategies, those shown a simultaneous lineup reported the use of both relative and absolute strategies. Accurate identifications and rejections were found to be associated with the use of absolute strategies, irrespective of lineup presentation or presence of target. Also accurate identifications, at least with a sequential lineup, were generally made faster than inaccurate identifications. These results are compared to previous studies with respect to the effect that mode of processing (relative versus absolute judgements) has on a witness's decision making and identification accuracy. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.