Confidence and Accuracy of Eyewitness Identification

Neil Brewer, James Sauer

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    The demonstrated fallibility of eyewitness identification evidence has motivated researchers to search for indices of identification decision accuracy. The initial sections of this chapter discusses perceptions of the confidence-accuracy (CA) relationship by lay-persons and decision-makers in the criminal justice system, and then reviews theoretical and empirical investigations of the CA relationship. The chapter highlights areas of convergence and divergence between the legal, theoretical, and empirical perspectives. A significant part of this chapter is spent in addressing a largely ignored issue relating to eyewitness identification confidence: how current identification test practices fail to exploit the applied value of confidence as an index of identification accuracy. Finally, the chapter discusses how theories of recognition memory and confidence processing highlight new-and important-opportunities for using confidence in the criminal justice system. Basic face recognition research revealed a generally linear, positive relationship between ecphoric confidence ratings and the likelihood that a face is previously seen.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationForensic Facial Identification
    Subtitle of host publicationTheory and Practice of Identification from Eyewitnesses, Composites and CCTV
    Number of pages24
    ISBN (Electronic)9781118469538
    ISBN (Print)9781118469583
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2015


    • Confidence-accuracy (CA) relationship
    • Criminal justice system
    • Ecphoric confidence ratings
    • Empirical perspectives
    • Eyewitness identification evidence
    • Recognition memory


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