This study tested the possibility that eyewitness identification accuracy might be enhanced if witnesses could be induced to use automatic rather than deliberative processing strategies when inspecting a photoarray (cf. Dunning and Stern, 1994). Witnesses (N= 140) viewed a filmed robbery, were exposed to a photoarray for either 2.5 s, 5 s, 20 s or 40 s, and made an identification when the photoarray terminated. Brief exposure durations led to reduced reporting of deliberative processing and increased reporting of automatic processing. However, identification accuracy declined with reductions in exposure duration, and processing strategy did not distinguish accurate from inaccurate identifications. We argued that automatic processing is likely to reflect quality of the image of the offender rather than cause accurate identification.
- Exposure duration
- Eyewitness identification accuracy
- Processing strategy