Regularities in Eyewitness Identification

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Abstract

What do eyewitness identification experiments typically show? We address this question through a meta-analysis of 94 comparisons between target-present and target-absent lineups. The analyses showed that: (a) correct identifications and correct-nonidentifications were uncorrelated, (b) suspect identifications were more diagnostic with respect to the suspect's guilt or innocence than any other response, (c) nonidentifications were diagnostic of the suspect's innocence, (d) the diagnosticity of foil identifications depended on lineup composition, and (e) don't know responses were nondiagnostic with respect to guilt or innocence. Results of diagnosticity analyses for simultaneous and sequential lineups varied for full-sample versus direct-comparison analyses. Diagnosticity patterns also varied as a function of lineup composition. Theoretical, forensic, and legal implications are discussed.

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