The effect of evidence type, identification accuracy, line-up presentation, and line-up administration on observers' perceptions of eyewitnesses

Authors


Abstract

Purpose

People tend to believe eyewitness testimony and have difficulty assessing the accuracy of eyewitness identifications. This study examines observers' perceptions of eyewitness identifications made under various line-up presentation and administration conditions. We also investigate whether observers' ability to discriminate between accurate and inaccurate identifications is enhanced by viewing video-recorded identification decisions rather than eyewitness testimony.

Methods

Each participant (N = 432) viewed a video of an accurate or inaccurate eyewitness providing testimony and/or making an identification decision. Identifications were obtained from simultaneous or sequential line-ups conducted under double-blind, single-blind, or post-identification feedback administration conditions.

Results

Exposure to eyewitness testimony was associated with a bias to believe the evidence; exposure to the identification decision eliminated the response bias, however, it did not improve observer sensitivity to identification accuracy. Viewing the identification decision resulted in greater belief of accurate than inaccurate identifications when eyewitnesses chose from simultaneous – but not sequential – line-ups. Regardless of evidence type or identification accuracy, observers were more likely to believe eyewitnesses who received confirmatory post-identification feedback compared to the non-feedback conditions.

Conclusions

Presenting a video record of the identification decision neither improved observers' ability to discriminate between accurate and inaccurate eyewitness identifications nor reduced belief of identifications obtained from suggestive procedures. Further research is warranted before presenting video-recorded identification procedures in court.

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