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Personal Characteristics and Validity of Eyewitness Testimony (From Policing in Central and Eastern Europe: Dilemmas of Contemporary Criminal Justice, P 355-359, 2004, Gorazd Mesko, et al., eds. -- See NCJ-207973)

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2004
5 pages

This study attempted to identify characteristics of individuals who are likely to provide reliable eyewitness testimony.


The study involved 100 freshmen at Slovenia's Faculty of Criminal Justice, with the sample approximately evenly divided between males and females. They were administered Eysenck's questionnaire of personality standardized for use with the Slovenian population. This instrument measures introversion/extraversion, psychoticism/impulse control, and neuroticism/emotional stability. The lie scale of the instrument shows a person's tendency to give answers that are socially more desirable or that comply with the expectations of an authority figure. A short film portraying a physical attack in the course of a robbery was shown to the participants. Memory recall of the film's events were tested through a form that helped participants recall details of the event and the persons involved. The regression method was used to predict the quality or validity of the statements of the eyewitnesses. The results failed to produce a set of predictors for accurate eyewitness testimony. It was possible to explain only 26 percent of the total variance in witness accuracy with the set of predictors used; however, there were some interesting findings. Individuals who scored high on extroversion and low on neuroticism were more reliable witnesses. Also, subjects with high psychoticism also tended to recall a low quantity of data. 6 references

Date Published: September 1, 2004