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EYEWITNESS RECALL AND PHOTO IDENTIFICATION: A FIELD EXPERIMENT

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Some 590 men and women were tested in public places for interrogative recall and photo identification of a young woman to whom they had spoken for approximately 15 seconds, either 2 minutes earlier or 4 hours earlier. The target was seen originally either with or without a baseball cap and dark sunglasses. Witnesses were either prepared or not prepared at the time of the encounter for a subsequent memory test. Half of the witnesses were given imagery retrieval instructions or standard retrieval instructions prior to the two memory tests. A separate group of 379 introductory psychology students attempted to predict the performance of the eyewitnesses. Witness preparation was of more importance for recall of clothing characteristics than for physical characteristics. Witness preparation, target disguise, retention interval, gender of witnesses, and retrieval instructions had no significant main effects on identification. Forty-nine per cent of the witnesses given the target-present lineup correctly identified the target, and 62% correctly rejected the target-absent lineup. Student's beliefs in the accuracy of recall and identification were not consistent with eyewitnesses' performance.
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Keywords: Eyewitness Identification; Eyewitness Recall; Photo Lineups

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-03-01

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