Does making a facial composite contaminate witness memory? Ecological validity and framing an innocent suspect

Turner, Jim (2016). Does making a facial composite contaminate witness memory? Ecological validity and framing an innocent suspect. In: European Association of Psychology and Law Conference (EAPL 2016), 5-8 Jul 2016, Toulouse, France.

Abstract

This paper summarises the data from four experiments investigating the facial composite interference effect, namely the suggestion that constructing a composite might lead to a reduction in accuracy at a later identification task (e.g. Wells, Charman and Olson (2005). The experiments attempted to replicate an interference effect using both featural (E-FIT) and holistic (E-FIT V) facial composite systems and both laboratory and field experiments. In addition, an artificial composite procedure was employed that was specifically designed to create the effect by leading participants towards an image of an innocent suspect. None of the four experiments replicated a composite interference effect, with effect sizes ranging from .04 to .57 (p values ranging from .122 to .920). Several methodological possibilities for these results are considered, with a particular focus on ecological validity and the use of composites in criminal investigations.

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