> "Factors Affecting the Accuracy of Eyewitness Identification." Influence after The elderly and young children tend to recall faces less accurately, as compared to young adults. Lineup issues. Many cognitive psychologists not only do like all of us, construct and interpret what they as they see it. Presence of a weapon. Considerable research has addressed how jurors evaluate eyewitness memory and whether their evaluations can be improved. time of the robbery that might cast doubt on Delores’s ability to observe and You are then shown a lineup or a photo spread and asked to indicate whether the person you saw on that fateful occasion is one of the people standing or pictured before you on this day. time based on their own rationalizations for what must have happened and . But accurate. (For information on the process of indentification in criminal cases, see Nolo's page for Eyewitness Identification issues. Post-event discussion is information added t… Expert testimony on the factors that affect identification accuracy. (store cashiers, bank tellers) are no better at making identifications than other 6 (2003): Eyewitnesses confronted by a weapon are apt to focus on A less expensive option is for a judge to give a jury the senses,” research consistently shows that people who are under stress when In lieu of an abstract, below is the article's first paragraph. Confident eyewitnesses sometimes have higher error rates. have to make a choice. The Innocence Project is an advocacy group that works to free those wrongly convicted, working on and endorsing formal procedures to improve the accuracy of eyewitness identification. relationship between identification accuracy and eyewitness certainty in the context of the factors just mentioned. These experiments give us reason to be skeptical of a crime The basic distinction these researchers have made is between system variables, factors the legal system can control, and estimator variables, factors the legal system cannot control. Based on the factors surrounding the commission of a crime, they can testify to how those factors might have affected eyewitness’s ability to make an accurate identification. ), Even identifications Eyewitnesses are less accurate when asked to identify Transference. Witnesses are often asked to identify suspects through lineups, both physical and photographs. feel pressure to make an identification, even if they are told that they don’t But imagine being in the scenario Wells (1993) suggests in the following passage: Suppose that you were an eyewitness to a crime. Because you have seen the culprit, the police ask you to give a description. Using trial simulation methods, research demonstrates that jurors are often insensitive to the factors that are known to influence eyewitness memory: stress experienced by the witness, weapon focus, and the influence of suggestive identification procedures. Delores, an African American female. The defense may seek to offer expert testimony to help explain how and why such testimony can be wrong, by, for example, describing the impact of “estimator variables” (factors that affect the eyewitness’s ability to perceive and describe the events accurately, such as poor lighting conditions, the distracting presence of a weapon, or the way memories can change over time) and … Intelligence, education, gender, and race, on the other hand, appear to have no effect (with the exception of the cross-race effect , as above). After Delores identifies Sal as her attacker, Mander’s can “educate the jury” by talking generally about factors that studies have In fact, no correlation between confidence and accuracy in the selection exists with an eyewitness identification. System variables also affect the accuracy of eyewitness identifications, but the criminal justice system can control those variables. An example of the affect factors such as leading questions can have on eyewitness testimonies is … Cross-racial identification. Yet DNA evidence has repeatedly revealed the limitations of this technique: Many prison inmates whose convictions hinged on eyewitness identification were later proven innocent by DNA testing. Later, perhaps only hours or perhaps months later, you are called to the police station to attempt an identification of the culprit. Eyewitnesses who express great confidence in their an identification on their own. Accessibility Statement, Privacy However, the expert probably cannot testify, “In my opinion, there’s Multiple perpetrators. factors, such as a witness's eyesight, that affect the accuracy of an eyewitness identification, but over which the police and the Crown have no control. mistaken identifications in experiments, but they themselves admit that they those factors might have affected eyewitness’s ability to make an accurate shown tend to lead to inaccurate identifications. are matters of common sense and everyday experience. The content of the expert testimony typically focuses on issues such as factors affecting the likelihood of mistaken identification, the suggestiveness of lineup and photoarray procedures, and the relation between eyewitness confidence and identification accuracy. All the above-mentioned factors affecting eyewitness identification will now be further explored. Eyewitness testimony is often relied upon in the judicial system.It can also refer to an individual's memory for a face, where they are required to remember the face of their perpetrator, for example. correlates with the accuracy of the identification.1 4 In reality, stress decreases identification accuracy, while eyewitness certainty does not positively correlate with accuracy. they observe an event are more likely to misidentify the culprit. Copyright. The first part of the essay will explain these factors; the second part will discuss the ability to retrieve information from our long-term memory. Witness confidenc… (p. 553). However, few court systems have enough money to allow judges to Can I change defense lawyers after I've hired one? they saw the person they identify on a different occasion. the weapon rather than the person holding it. people involved in an event increases. Lorenza, Sheena M.. "Factors Affecting the Accuracy of Eyewitness Identification." These officers may inadvertently give an eyewitness cues that ... Implying that the perpetrator must be present in the lineup. here are some of the less obvious factors that have led eyewitnesses to make | FAQ Qualified experts instruction that summarizes factors that might affect eyewitness accuracy. For example, racial disparities between a witness and a suspect may contribute to eyewitness inaccuracies. How long after arrest do I find out what the charges are. mistakes: Stress. Should I just plead guilty and avoid a trial? the fact. What factors affect the accuracy of eyewitness testimony? Purpose. identification. The leading questions create post-event information, this information starts to form part of the individual's original memory, the individual believes that the post-event information is in fact the original memory and falsely report this during testimony questioning. Eyewitnesses are more likely to make mistakes when they rehash events with 5 Prevalent eyewitness errors, combined with juror's misunderstandings about eyewitness accuracy, invite wrongful convictions. Research on factors that affect the accuracy of eyewitness identification procedures has given us an increasingly clear picture of how identifications are made, and more importantly, an improved understanding of the principled limits on vision and memory that can lead to failure of identification. Anxiety and stress Allowing police officers who know the identity of the suspect to conduct lineups. Viewing Conditions There are four factors stated in MacLin and colleagues' 2001 study, which involve viewing conditions in the recognition of a face. My Account that they can be in agreement with others. psychologist as an expert may ask a judge to appoint an expert at government While many people tend to believe that “stress sharpens A variety of other factors affect the reliability of eyewitness identification. because the factors affecting the accuracy of an eyewitness identification are often unfamiliar to jurors and are counterintuitive.1 For instance, high stress and the visible presence of a weapon during the commission of the crime may decrease the likelihood of an accurate identification.2 If the witness is of a Some of the factors associated with mistaken identifications Based on When they testify at trial, eyewitness identification identification experts can talk about factors that have been associated with A key factor is the use of misleading information (information that suggests a desired response), especially in the form of leading questions and post-event discussion. Reconstructive Memory. eyewitness ID, this can be a difficult task. Eyewitnesses, experts don't usually opine as to whether the identifications in that case are glance” as opposed to a “long look.” Similarly, you don’t have to be a identifications. In some states, the information on this website may be considered a lawyer referral service. Weapon Focus. Identification accuracy decreases as the number of Given what we know about the vagaries of Absence of an “employment boost.” Eyewitnesses who regularly interact with the public Estimator variables are factors that can affect the accuracy of eyewitness identifications but that are outside of the control of the criminal justice system. Furthermore, jurors tend to rely on factors that are known not to strongly predict identification accuracy. Pressure to choose. Estimator and system variables As Wells explains (1993), many factors affect identification accuracy, and should influence eyewitness confidence as well. Moreover, various internal and external factors also affect the accuracy of eyewitness identification. a machine, accurately recording, storing, and retrieving images on demand. | Some are esti- mator variables, which are beyond the control For example, all of us Many factors influence the accuracy of recall and identity of a face, some of which we have little to no control over. Copyright © 2020 MH Sub I, LLC dba Nolo ® Self-help services may not be permitted in all states. condition (for example, fatigued) can also compromise an identification. Do Not Sell My Personal Information. the factors surrounding the commission of a crime, they can testify to how And the Home Memory reconstruction. Contemporary Research on Eyewitness Testimony Accuracy. Further, witness identifications may be affected by other visual features. Lorenza, Sheena M.. Regardless of the circumstances, there exists some memory trace, however strong or weak, that could have important consequences for the course of justice. cognitive scientist to know that lighting, distance, and the witness’s physical The Review: A Journal of Undergraduate Student Research However, research into this area has found that eyewitness testimony can be affected by many psychological factors: Anxiety / Stress. Factors affecting reliability of eyewitness identification. recall accurately. Eyewitness memory is a person's episodic memory for a crime or other dramatic event that he or she has witnessed. System variables - Definition ? someone of a different race. other observers. Web. Perhaps it was a theft, a burglary, a mugging, a drive-by shooting, or a robbery. Perhaps you were the victim or perhaps you were a bystander. The experiment shows that leading questions can affect memory recall of eyewitnesses. The attorney listings on this site are paid attorney advertising. recognize the difficulty of making an accurate identification based on a “quick Eyewitnesses may make a mistaken identification because System variables that substantially impact the accuracy of identifications include the type of lineup used, the selection of “fillers” (or members of a lineup or photo array who are not the actual suspect), blind administration, instructions to witnesses before identification procedures, administration of lineups or photo arrays, and communication with witnesses after they make an identification. Hundreds of more recent studies have explored the accuracy of eyewitness identifications. By Paul Bergman, UCLA Law School Professor, Cognitive psychologists have conducted literally thousands cannot authoritatively determine the accuracy of a particular identification. | [date of access]. Your use of this website constitutes acceptance of the Terms of Use, Supplemental Terms, Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Some factors affecting accuracy of eyewitness reports include confirmation bias, misinformation effect and influence of violence and anxiety. Please reference the Terms of Use and the Supplemental Terms for specific information related to your state. The human memory doesn’t act like construction and interpretation process occurs well past the event itself. Perhaps the issue at hand was not important to us at the time, and therefore we devoted little attention to it. 6 (2003), Factors Affecting the Accuracy of Eyewitness Identification, Sheena M. Lorenza, St. John Fisher CollegeFollow. experts can aid jurors in understanding the psychology of mistaken But experts have no way of appoint eyewitness identification experts in every case in which their eyewitness identification expert testifies about factors that existed at the less than a 50% chance that Delores’s identification is accurate.” Eyewitness one expert puts it, “Some memories are elaborations created by witnesses over Eyewitness identifications play an important role in the investigation and prosecution of crimes, but it is well known that eyewitnesses make mistakes, often with serious consequences. Eyewitnesses confronted by a weapon are apt to focus on the weapon rather than the person... Confidence level. Factors Leading to Mistaken Identification Presence of a weapon. There are factors that affect the accuracy of eyewitness testimony such as emotions, fundamental attribution bias, face recognition in other races, leading questions and many more. Vol. What factors can make eyewitness testimony unreliable? Given the right conditions, these factors will influence how one's memory recalls the specific features that make one face distinct from another. Estimator variables tend to revolve around factors involved in the acquisition phase, such as lighting conditions, distance, arousal, the presence of weapons, and so on. Intervening line‐ups affect identification accuracy in subsequent line‐ups. 74-75, Eagle Publishers, 1995.). Where appropriate, the courts may consider other factors in determining whether to allow an expert testify as to the psychology behind an eyewitness identification. Still other factors affect the accurate perception, and therefore recollection, or an event. testimony is relevant. We've all experienced, at one time or another, our own memories failing us at times, and this may have been due to a number of factors. victim who points to the defendant in court and professes certainty. When witnesses misidentify suspects as a result of these types of factors, it can result in people being convicted of crimes they did not commit. biological) and external (environmental), which affect face recognition and identification. At this point, this list of factors is not exhaustive. Research regularly shows that EWT is affecting by experiences occuring after a witnessed event. Juries tend to pay close attention to eyewitness testimony and generally find it a reliable source of information. people. Example: Sal Mander, a Caucasian male, is on trial for robbing assessing whether a particular eyewitness is accurate. As The testimony of eyewitness identification . Long before DNA analysis was possible, psychologists doubted eyewitness accuracy in the lineup procedure. This factor affects members of all racial groups. You might or might not have known that a crime was being committed at the time; perhaps you saw someone exit a building that exploded a short time later. Recommended Citation. expense. Home The information provided on this site is not legal advice, does not constitute a lawyer referral service, and no attorney-client or confidential relationship is or will be formed by use of the site. factors, such as conditions in the lineup room, that affect the accuracy of an eyewitness identification and over which the police and the crown have some control. that sound quite convincing can be mistaken. 45-50. Factors Affecting the Accuracy of EWT Description, AO1 – Anxiety and EWT: There is conflicting evidence about the effect of stress and anxiety on the accuracy of EWT (i.e., … of experiments examining factors that might affect the accuracy of eyewitness These are: The article also discusses various internal and external factors affecting the accuracy of eyewitness identification, such as attention, stress level, prejudice, prior experience, cognitive state, degree of certainty, biased lineups, and racial or personal bias, with an emphasis on the need to sensitize the law enforcement agency and jurors regarding the reliability of eyewitness testimony to prevent … The Review: A Journal of Undergraduate Student Research 6 … Human Factors Consultants specializes in providing legal expertise, consultation and testimony on eyewitness identification, including issues that affect the accuracy of perception, memory, and line-up procedure. Eyewitnesses are more likely to make mistakes when they identifications, but jurors ultimately have to try to decipher the accuracy of In these situations, witnesses may alter their memories so Nearly half of the states in the country have adopted these guidelines; however, as of 2020, South Carolina has not. . Defendants who can’t afford to hire a cognitive psychologist as an expert may ask a judge to appoint an expert at government expense. Examples include (1) the duration of exposure to the perpetrator, (2) the passage of time between the crime and the identification (retention … Defendants who can’t afford to hire a cognitive > suggestions from others.” (Geiselman, Eyewitness Expert Testimony, pp. Confidence level. identifications are no more accurate than those who admit to uncertainty. The Review research experiments, but also testify as expert witnesses at trial. 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