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Do Masked-Face Lineups Facilitate Eyewitness Identification Of A Masked Individual?, Krista D. Manley, Jason C.K. Chan, Gary L. Wells Dec 2018

Do Masked-Face Lineups Facilitate Eyewitness Identification Of A Masked Individual?, Krista D. Manley, Jason C.K. Chan, Gary L. Wells

Psychology Publications

Perpetrators often wear disguises like ski masks to hinder subsequent identification by witnesses or law enforcement officials. In criminal cases involving a masked perpetrator, the decision of whether and how to administer a lineup often rests on the investigating officer. To date, no evidence-based recommendations are available for eyewitness identifications of a masked perpetrator. In 4 experiments, we examined lineup identification performance depending on variations in both encoding (studying a full face vs. a partial/masked face) and retrieval conditions (identifying a target from a full-face lineup vs. a partial/masked-face lineup). In addition, we manipulated whether the target was ...


Eyewitness Identification, Gary L. Wells Jan 2018

Eyewitness Identification, Gary L. Wells

Psychology Publications

Mistaken eyewitness-identification testimony is at the heart of a large share of the convictions of people whose innocence was later proven using forensic DNA testing. A considerable amount is now known about how to lower the rate of mistaken identifications through the use of better procedures for conducting identification. Several procedural reforms are described, such as double-blind lineups and pristine assessments of eyewitness-identification confidence. Although numerous jurisdictions have made improvements to their identification procedures in recent years, a large share of jurisdictions have still not made significant reforms. Although some courts have been making better use of the scientific findings ...


Eyewitness Identification Performance On Showups Improves With An Additional-Opportunities Instruction: Evidence For Present–Absent Criteria Discrepancy, Andrew M. Smith, Gary L. Wells, R. C. L. Lindsay, Tiffany Myerson Dec 2017

Eyewitness Identification Performance On Showups Improves With An Additional-Opportunities Instruction: Evidence For Present–Absent Criteria Discrepancy, Andrew M. Smith, Gary L. Wells, R. C. L. Lindsay, Tiffany Myerson

Psychology Publications

We tested the proposition that when eyewitnesses find it difficult to recognize a suspect (as in a culprit-absent showup), eyewitnesses accept a weaker match to memory for making an identification. We tie this proposition to the basic recognition memory literature, which shows people use lower decision criteria when recognition is made difficult so as to not miss their chance of getting a hit on the target. We randomly assigned participant–witnesses (N = 610) to a condition in which they were told that if they did not believe the suspect was the culprit, they would have additional opportunities to make an ...


Eyewitness Lineups: Identification From, Laura Smalarz, Gary L. Wells Jan 2015

Eyewitness Lineups: Identification From, Laura Smalarz, Gary L. Wells

Psychology Publications

The police lineup is a common tool for eyewitness identifications of suspects in criminal cases. Forensic DNA testing of people convicted by eyewitness identification evidence and field studies of police lineups, however, have revealed that mistaken identification from lineups is not uncommon. Controlled laboratory experiments have isolated numerous variables that contribute to mistaken identifications from lineups, some of which are controllable by the criminal justice system (e.g., various biases in the lineup or its procedure) and some of which are not controllable by the criminal justice system (e.g., witnessing conditions, stress).


Obtaining And Interpreting Eyewitness Identification Test Evidence: The Influence Of Police–Witness Interactions, Neil Brewer, Gary L. Wells Jan 2009

Obtaining And Interpreting Eyewitness Identification Test Evidence: The Influence Of Police–Witness Interactions, Neil Brewer, Gary L. Wells

Psychology Publications

Eyewitnesses to a crime are frequently asked to view an identification parade to see if they can identify the offender. Conduct of a line-up involves police or line-up administrators in a number of important decisions, such as who to put in the line-up, the method of presentation of the line-up, and what to say to witnesses before and after the line-up. The identification test can be conceptualized as a variant on an interview between the police and the witness, involving important interactions between police (or other line-up administrators) and witnesses. These interactions can profoundly influence witness decisions and impact on ...


Expert Testimony Regarding Eyewitness Identification, Brian L. Cutler, Gary L. Wells Jan 2009

Expert Testimony Regarding Eyewitness Identification, Brian L. Cutler, Gary L. Wells

Psychology Publications

Increasingly, psychologists are giving expert testimony in court on the accu­ racy of eyewitness identification (Kassin, Tubb, Hosch, & Memon, 2001). Eyewitness experts typically are cognitive or social psychologists who have published research articles on the topic of eyewitness memory. Expert testi­ mony in eyewitness identification is most commonly offered by the defense in criminal cases but is occasionally countered by opposing expert testimony offered by the prosecution. The increasing use of such expert testimony owes largely to the growing recognition that mistaken eyewitness identification is the single most common precursor to the conviction of innocent people (Doyle, 2005). In addition ...


Eyewitness Identification: Systemic Reforms, Gary L. Wells Jan 2006

Eyewitness Identification: Systemic Reforms, Gary L. Wells

Psychology Publications

The vagaries of eyewitness identification are well known; the annals of criminal law are rife with instances of mistaken identification.


Eyewitness Identification Evidence: Science And Reform, Gary L. Wells Apr 2005

Eyewitness Identification Evidence: Science And Reform, Gary L. Wells

Psychology Publications

Kirk Bloodsworth was the first death row inmate to be exonerated by DNA evidence. Bloodsworth, a U.S. Marine veteran, had never been in trouble with the law, but was convicted in 1984 of the rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl and was sentenced to die in Maryland’s gas chamber. DNA tests exonerated Bloodsworth in 1993, but it was not until 2004 that the real killer was identified by DNA tests. The evidence driving Bloodsworth’s conviction was mistaken eyewitness identification.

There is little doubt today that mistaken eyewitness identification is the primary cause of the conviction of ...


Helping Experimental Psychology Affect Legal Policy, Gary L. Wells Jan 2005

Helping Experimental Psychology Affect Legal Policy, Gary L. Wells

Psychology Publications

Any scientific psychologist who has interacted extensively with police, lawyers, or trial judges has learned that scientific psychology and the legal system are very different beasts. The differences run much deeper than mere language and instead represent different types of thinking-a clash of cultures. This clash is particularly apparent when psychologists attempt to use research findings to affect legal policies and practices. In order for scientific psychologists to work effectively in applying psychological science to the legal system, they will need to develop a better understanding of the concept of policy and the contingencies that exist for policymakers.


Eyewitness Testimony, Gary L. Wells Jan 2002

Eyewitness Testimony, Gary L. Wells

Psychology Publications

Eyewitness testimony refers to verbal state­ ments from people regardi ng what they observed and can purportedly remember that would be relevant to issues of proof at a criminal or civil trial. Such state­ ments constitute a common form of evidence at trials. Eyewitness identification is a specific type of eyewit­ ness testimony in which an eyewitness claims to rec­ ognize a specific person as one who committed a par­ ticular action. In cases where the eyewitness knew the suspect before the crime, issues of the reliability of memory are usually not contested. In cases where the perpetrator of the ...


Eyewitness Identification: Psychological Aspects, Gary L. Wells Jan 2002

Eyewitness Identification: Psychological Aspects, Gary L. Wells

Psychology Publications

Eyewitness identification refers to a type of evidence in which an eyewitness to a crime claims to recognize a suspect as the one who committed the crime. In cases where the eyewitness knew the suspect before the crime, issues of the reliability of memory are usually not contested. In cases where the perpetrator of the crime was a stranger to the eyewitness, however, the reliability of the identification is often at issue. Researchers in various areas of experimental psychology, especially cognitive and social psychology, have been conducting scientific studies of eyewitness identification evidence since the mid-1970s. Today, there exists a ...


Eyewitness Identification: 'I Noticed You Paused On Number Three.', Bill Nettles, Zoe Sanders, Gary L. Wells Nov 1996

Eyewitness Identification: 'I Noticed You Paused On Number Three.', Bill Nettles, Zoe Sanders, Gary L. Wells

Psychology Publications

An eyewitness to a crime is the most damaging evidence the government can present in a criminal trial. The impact on the jury of a witness pointing to the defense table and saying “that is the man right there – I will never forget his face” is overwhelming. The prosecutor can often support the veracity of the identification by providing testimony that the witness previously identified the accused in some sort of a photo spread. If the witness is a victim, police officer or some other witness sympathetic to the government, the testimony usually goes something like this: “The officer showed ...


Recommendations For Properly Conducted Lineup Identification Tasks, Gary L. Wells, Eric P. Seelau, Sheila M. Rydell, C. A. Elizabeth Luus Jan 1994

Recommendations For Properly Conducted Lineup Identification Tasks, Gary L. Wells, Eric P. Seelau, Sheila M. Rydell, C. A. Elizabeth Luus

Psychology Publications

An eyewitness takes the stand and describes salient aspects of an event that he or she witnessed several months earlier. Then, in the hush of the courtroom, points to the defendant and says “That's him. That's the man I saw.” Simple, clean, and convincing. And therein rests the problem; what appears to be a simple identification is in fact the result of a series of complex and potentially unreliable social and cognitive events that began unfolding several months earlier when the event was originally witnessed.

This chapter, and much of the empirical research on which it is based ...


Eyewitness Identification Confidence, C. A. Elizabeth Luus, Gary L. Wells Jan 1994

Eyewitness Identification Confidence, C. A. Elizabeth Luus, Gary L. Wells

Psychology Publications

The production has been staged many times over the last decade. Although the plot and cast of characters have often varied, the story always involves a crime, a number of unsuspecting eyewitnesses, and an attempt to identify the criminal. Despite these variations, the ending usually remains the same: Some eyewitnesses feel certain they have identified the perpetrator; others lack that certainty. The accuracy of a witness's testimony cannot, however, necessarily be garnered from the certainty he or she expresses. Eyewitness confidence has been found to account for less than 10 percent of the variance in eyewitness identification accuracy (Wells ...