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Confidence and Accuracy of Eyewitness Identification From Lineups

NCJ Number
Law and Human Behavior Volume: 10 Issue: 3 Dated: (September 1986) Pages: 229-239
R C L Lindsay
Date Published
This study involved two experiments to test the hypothesis that confidence of eyewitness identification is a function of the similarity of the identified person to the original target.
Recent studies of confidence-accuracy correlations in eyewitness identification experiments have produced highly variable results, largely due to differences in research designs. This study's first experiment used 53 nonstudent subjects and 14 targets. Students worked in pairs: one approached a university employee and asked him or her to participate in a person-perception study. The second student met the employee 15 to 25 minutes later and showed him or her a six-picture photo array which contained either a photo of the target (the first student) or an identical array with the target replaced with a photo of a similar other (foil). This experiment demonstrated that the person in the lineup who most closely resembled the target was identified with the highest mean level of confidence. The second experiment examined confidence in identification following a crime staged for 260 introductory psychology students. The results indicated that the similarity of foils to the target was predictive of both the frequency and confidence of identification of faces. Tables and 19 references. (Author abstract modified)