Law and Human Behavior

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 459-473

First online:

Eyewitness Accuracy Rates in Sequential and Simultaneous Lineup Presentations: A Meta-Analytic Comparison

  • Nancy SteblayAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Augsburg College
  • , Jennifer DysartAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Queen's University
  • , Solomon FuleroAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Sinclair College
  • , R. C. L. LindsayAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Queen's University


Most police lineups use a simultaneous presentation technique in which eyewitnesses view all lineup members at the same time. Lindsay and Wells (R. C. L. Lindsay & G. L. Wells, 1985) devised an alternative procedure, the sequential lineup, in which witnesses view one lineup member at a time and decide whether or not that person is the perpetrator prior to viewing the next lineup member. The present work uses the technique of meta-analysis to compare the accuracy rates of these presentation styles. Twenty-three papers were located (9 published and 14 unpublished), providing 30 tests of the hypothesis and including 4,145 participants. Results showed that identification of perpetrators from target-present lineups occurs at a higher rate from simultaneous than from sequential lineups. However, this difference largely disappears when moderator variables approximating real world conditions are considered. Also, correct rejection rates were significantly higher for sequential than simultaneous lineups and this difference is maintained or increased by greater approximation to real world conditions. Implications of these findings are discussed.