Memory Strength and Lineup Presentation Moderate Effects of Administrator Influence on Mistaken Identifications

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Abstract

Administrator/witness pairs (N = 313) were randomly assigned to target-absent lineups in a 2 (Suspect/Perpetrator Similarity: High Suspect Similarity vs. Low Suspect Similarity) × 2 (Retention Interval: 30 min vs. 1 week) × 2 (Lineup Presentation: Simultaneous vs. Sequential) × 2 (Administrator Knowledge: Single-Blind vs. Double-Blind) factorial design to test whether suspect similarity and memory strength constrain interpersonal expectancy effects on eyewitness identification accuracy. Administrators who knew which lineup member was the suspect (single-blind) or who administered simultaneous lineups were more likely to emit verbal and nonverbal behaviors that suggested to the witness who the suspect was. Additionally, single-blind administrators exerted more pressure on witnesses to choose the suspect as opposed to fillers. Administrator knowledge interacted with retention interval and lineup presentation to influence mistaken identifications of innocent suspects; witnesses were more likely to mistakenly identify an innocent suspect from single-blind than double-blind lineups when witness retention intervals were long and photographs were presented simultaneously. Contrary to our predictions, suspect/perpetrator similarity did not interact with other manipulated variables to influence identification decisions. Both sequential and double-blind procedures should be used to reduce the use of suggestive behavior during lineup administration.

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