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Are old witnesses always poorer witnesses? Identification accuracy, context reinstatement, own-age bias

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Young adults (16-30 years) and old adults (64-86 years) (N=96) viewed a staged videotaped crime event involving a young and old perpetrator. Prior to viewing either target present (TP) or target absent (TA) line-ups, half the participants received context reinstatement photographs. For the young line-up a significant effect of age group was found with old participants demonstrating poorer performance. However, on the old line-up there was no significant effect of age group. Importantly, a significant beneficial effect of context reinstating photographs existed for participants viewing the old TA line-up. An own-age bias did not exist for either age group in terms of accuracy but young participants were significantly more likely to choose a line-up member from the old line-ups compared to the young line-ups. It was concluded that given certain circumstances it may be possible for old adults to perform at an equivalent level to young adults.

Keywords: Old witnesses; ageing; eyewitness; identification line-up

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: London South Bank University, UK 2: University of Leicester, UK 3: University of Portsmouth, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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