The Open UniversitySkip to content

The Mystery Man Can Increase the Reliability of Eyewitness Identifications for Older Adult Witnesses

Havard, Catriona; Laybourn, Phyllis and Klecha, Barbara (2017). The Mystery Man Can Increase the Reliability of Eyewitness Identifications for Older Adult Witnesses. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 32(3) pp. 214–224.

Full text available as:
PDF (Accepted Manuscript) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (1MB) | Preview
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Some groups of eyewitnesses, such as older adults and children, are less likely to correctly reject a target-absent (TA) line-up, as compared to younger adults. Previous research reports that using a silhouette in a video line-up called the ‘mystery man’ could increase correct rejections for TA lineups for child eyewitnesses, without reducing correct identifications for target-present (TP) line-ups (Havard and Memon in Appl Cogn Psychol 27:50–59, 2013). The current study, using older and younger adults, investigated whether using the mystery man would also increase the identification accuracy for older adults, without impairing younger adults’ identification accuracy. The results found that older adults in the ‘mystery man’ condition rejected TA line-ups significantly more often than those in the control condition (52 vs. 24 %), with no significant effect upon the TP line-ups. For the younger adults, the mystery man had no influence on identification responses for the TA or TP line-ups. Our findings suggest the mystery man technique may be beneficial for older adults, without detrimentally affecting the accuracy for younger adults, and thus could increase the reliability of eyewitness evidence, where video line-ups are employed.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2016 Society for Police and Criminal Psychology
ISSN: 1936-6469
Keywords: Older adults; Eyewitness memory; Identification line-ups; Video line-ups
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Psychology
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Research Group: Harm and Evidence Research Collaborative (HERC)
Related URLs:
Item ID: 47794
Depositing User: Catriona Havard
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2016 15:12
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2019 09:37
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU