Eyewitness testimony that is reliable
NSF-funded research is enhancing eyewitness procedures to ensure greater degree of accuracy
November 7, 2017
Crime investigators often rely on eyewitness testimony, yet misidentification is a primary cause of convictions of innocent people.
NSF-supported scientists showed that changing how investigators conduct eyewitness procedures can reduce misidentification. Showing witnesses photos one at a time (not side by side) and telling them the suspect may not be pictured are ways to reduce false positives. Additionally, having an officer who is unaware of the suspect's identity conduct these procedures reduces misidentification as the officer is less likely to unintentionally convey information via tone of voice or posture.
The research led many states to reevaluate their eyewitness procedures and the Department of Justice to adopt new guidelines.
Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences
#0647243 Eyewitnesses' Retrospective Reports on External Influences
#9022182 The Selection of Distractors and Eyewitness Identification Accuracy
#1420181 Collaborative Research: Understanding and Predicting Eyewitness Identification Errors: Studies Using a Unique Set of Materials from Actual Lineups