Postidentification feedback affects subsequent eyewitness identification performance

Matthew Palmer, Neil Brewer, Nathan Weber

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    34 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Eyewitnesses sometimes view more than one lineup during an investigation. We investigated the effects of postidentification feedback following one lineup on responses to a second lineup. Witnesses (N = 621) viewed a mock crime and, later, attempted to identify the culprit from an initial (target-absent) lineup and a second (target-present or target-absent) lineup. Prior to viewing the second lineup, some witnesses received accurate feedback stating that the initial lineup did not contain the culprit. A compound-decision, signal detection approach allowed the effects of feedback on identification responses to be described in terms of differences in discriminability and response bias. For witnesses who made an incorrect foil identification from the initial lineup, feedback (vs. no feedback) was associated with poorer discriminability on the second test. For witnesses who correctly rejected the initial lineup, feedback (vs. no feedback) was associated with greater discriminability on the second test. Only witnesses who received feedback after an initial correct rejection performed at a level comparable with a single-lineup control group, suggesting that an initial identification test can impair, but not enhance, performance on a second test involving the same culprit. From a theoretical perspective, the results are consistent with the idea that the way people use memorial information when making memory decisions is flexible. Analyses of preidentification confidence ratings, obtained in a follow-up study (N = 133), suggested that the effects of feedback on identification performance may have operated via differences in witnesses' metacognitive beliefs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)387-398
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
    Volume16
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010

    Keywords

    • Eyewitness identification
    • Metacognition
    • Multiple lineups
    • Postidentification feedback
    • Signal detection theory

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