Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 118–127 | Cite as

Overhearing the Planning of A Crime: Do Adults Outperform Children As Earwitnesses?

  • Lisa Öhman
  • Anders Eriksson
  • Pär Anders Granhag


This study examined the reliability of earwitnesses using an ecologically realistic experimental set-up. A total of 282 participants, distributed over three age-groups (7–9 vs. 11–13 year olds vs. adults), were exposed to an unfamiliar voice for 40 seconds. After a two week delay, they were presented with a 7-voice lineup. Half of the participants were exposed to a target-present lineup (TP), and the other half to a target-absent lineup (TA). For both types of lineups the participants performed poorly. In the TP-condition only the 11–13-year olds (with 27% correct identifications) performed above chance level. Furthermore, in the TA-condition all age-groups showed a high willingness to make an identification (overall mean = 53%). For both groups of children, voice identification co-varied significantly with speaking rate and pitch level, as did pitch variation for the youngest children. Neither factor correlated significantly with the adults’ identifications.


Earwitnesses Children Voice identification Lineup 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa Öhman
    • 1
  • Anders Eriksson
    • 2
  • Pär Anders Granhag
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of ScienceUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

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