We investigated the effect on eyewitness identification performance of witnesses making an association between the perpetrator of a crime and someone well known to them. Participants were either cued or not cued to associate the perpetrator of a mock-crime with somebody famous before attempting to identify the culprit from a target-present photoarray a week later. It was hypothesized that those who made an association would: (1) think about the associated face during their rehearsal of the target memory throughout the week, and (2) exhibit worse identification test performance (i.e., by making fewer correct identifications and rejecting the line-up more often) relative to those who made no association. Although we demonstrated that concurrent rehearsal of the target and associated face had occurred, similar patterns of identification choices emerged regardless of whether an association was made or not. The implications of this finding in the absence of an effect on identification test performance are discussed in relation to memory strength, identification response criterion setting and future directions in identification research.
- Eyewitness identification
- Memory distortion