Improving line-up identifications using the mystery man procedure

Havard, Catriona (2015). Improving line-up identifications using the mystery man procedure. In: The Student Connections Conference, 30 Jun - 4 Jul 2014, Milton Keynes, UK.


A wealth of research has investigated how good people are at being eyewitnesses. This involves investigating how accurate witnesses are at correctly identifying a previously seen culprit from a line-up, and also whether witnesses choose someone from a line-up, even if the culprit is not there. Many of these studies have found that children and adults over the age of 60, are more likely to make false identifications when shown a line-up that does not contain a culprit. To reduce false identifications a new technique called the Mystery Man procedure was developed, which involves placing a silhouette in the line-up. The two studies discussed here, found that using the mystery man procedure can significantly reduce false identifications, without reducing correct identifications, for both children and older adults. The results of this research suggest that this technique could easily be implemented in police line-ups to make eyewitness identifications more accurate.

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