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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 147808 Find in a Library
Journal: Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice  Volume:9  Issue:4  Dated:(December 1993)  Pages:343-360
Author(s): A D West; B J Long
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 18
Type: Research (Applied/Empirical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study hypothesized that color cues in eyewitness situations reduce the accuracy of eyewitness identification.
Abstract: Four undergraduate classes were randomly selected from a southeastern university; two classes served as experimental groups and two classes served as controls. A male actor played the part of a disgruntled student who was upset with the professor over a failing grade. He was in front of all classes for approximately 30 seconds. Control groups witnessed the incident with the actor wearing all black clothing, while experimental groups saw the actor in colored clothing. Students were immediately debriefed and questioned after the incident. Findings revealed that the presence of color cues on the suspect in the eyewitness situation reduced the accuracy of suspect descriptions. Significant differences occurred in accuracy between experimental and control groups, with controls being more accurate. Overall performance (experimental and control groups combined) and within-group performance differed significantly on the three types of questionnaire variables (color, detail, and descriptive). Accuracy was also affected by student grade point average, seating position, and gender. Study limitations are noted, and research on eyewitness identification of suspects is reviewed. 44 references, 3 notes, and 5 tables
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Courts; Criminal investigation; Eyewitness testimony; Police; Suspect identification
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