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Eyewitness Identification Procedures: Recommendations for Lineups and Photospreads

Abstract

There is increasing evidence that false eyewitness identification is the primary cause of the conviction of innocent people. In 1996, the American Psychology/Law Society and Division 41 of the American Psychological Association appointed a subcommittee to review scientific evidence and make recommendations regarding the best procedures for constructing and conducting lineups and photospreads. Three important themes from the scientific literature relevant to lineup methods were identified and reviewed, namely relative-judgment processes, the lineups-as-experiments analogy, and confidence malleability. Recommendations are made that double-blind lineup testing should be used, that eyewitnesses should be forewarned that the culprit might not be present, that distractors should be selected based on the eyewitness's verbal description of the perpetrator, and that confidence should be assessed and recorded at the time of identification. The potential costs and benefits of these recommendations are discussed.

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Correspondence to Gary L. Wells.

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Wells, G.L., Small, M., Penrod, S. et al. Eyewitness Identification Procedures: Recommendations for Lineups and Photospreads. Law Hum Behav 22, 603–647 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1025750605807

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Keywords

  • Social Psychology
  • Scientific Literature
  • Scientific Evidence
  • Identification Procedure
  • American Psychological