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NCJ Number: 81735 Find in a Library
Title: Psychological Factors in Eyewitness Testimony (From Lawyers and Psychologists - The Way Forward, P 27-39, 1981, Joanna Shapland, ed. - See NCJ-81733)
Author(s): R Bull
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 13
Sponsoring Agency: British Psychological Soc
Leicester, LE1 7DR, England
Sale Source: British Psychological Soc
St Andrews House
48 Princess Road East
Leicester, LE1 7DR,
United Kingdom
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: Psychological research findings bearing upon eyewitness identification of suspects are discussed.
Abstract: Person identification in a criminal situation is a three-stage process. The first stage consists of witnessing the incident, which involves perception and all its vagaries. The second stage is composed of either recounting the observed person's appearance to the police, trying to construct a photofit, or attempting to aid a police artist in creating a likeness of the criminal. Each of these procedures involves memory and its inherent fallibilities. The third stage views memory and perception operating in tandem when the witness either tries to locate the suspect in a photo album or tries to match observations in a line-up to a stored image of the offender. Each of the stages involves the clouding of accuracy with emotions occasioned by the incident, witness stereotypes of criminals' physical characteristics, and the way in which information is elicited from the witness. The problem of eyewitness testimony is that it is neither completely accurate nor totally false. Persons caught up in the emotion of a threatening incident are less likely to recall accurately the appearance of the offender, and the use of a questionnaire or structured interview produces less accurate recall than a narrative recounting by the witness. The preferred method for a witness picking a suspect from a group is to have each member of the group appear separately in a room for the witness to observe. Twenty-one references are provided.
Index Term(s): Behavioral science research; Line-up; Mug shots; Suspect identification; Witnesses
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