Get access

The showup identification procedure: An exploration of systematic biases

Authors

  • Victoria Z. Lawson,

    Corresponding author
    1. John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, USA
    2. Graduate Center of the City University of New York, USA
    • Victoria Z. Lawson, Department of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, 524 W 59th Street, New York, NY 10019, USA (e-mail: vlawson@jjay.cuny.edu).

    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jennifer E. Dysart

    1. John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, USA
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Purpose. Showups are common, yet little research has investigated the biasing factors that may influence showup identifications. We investigated the effects of cross-race conditions and clothing bias on showup identification decisions. Additionally, we explored identification decisions made in a subsequent lineup dependent on race, clothing, and showup-target-presence.

Methods. Participants watched a mock crime and were presented with a showup in which suspect race, target-presence, and the clothing worn by the suspect were varied. Following a delay, participants viewed a target-present or -absent lineup and were asked to make a second identification decision.

Results. Presentation of the suspect in the clothing worn by the perpetrator increased choosing rates in both own-race and other-race conditions. Despite this, differential patterns of decision response latencies indicated that eyewitnesses may use clothing information differently when making own-race compared to other-race identification decisions. No evidence for an own-race bias in showup identifications was found; however, other-race lineup identifications were less accurate than own-race lineup identifications. Further, participants in own-race and other-race conditions differed in the extent to which they were affected by multiple identification procedures. Viewing an own-race innocent suspect in a showup increased subsequent false lineup identifications, while choosing the innocent suspect from the showup was necessary to increase false lineup identifications in other-race conditions.

Conclusions. Different situational factors may affect the identification accuracy of eyewitnesses in own-race and other-race conditions for both showup and lineup procedures. Particular caution is advised when showups are clothing-biased and multiple identification procedures are used.

Ancillary