Academic journal article The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context

The Reliability of Identification Evidence with Multiple Lineups

Academic journal article The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context

The Reliability of Identification Evidence with Multiple Lineups

Article excerpt


This study aimed to establish the diagnostic value of multiple lineup decisions made for portrait, body, and profile lineups, including multiple target/suspect choices, rejections, foil choices, and don't know answers. A total of 192 participants identified a thief and a victim of theftfrom independent simultaneous target-present or target-absent 6-person portrait, body and profile lineups after watching one of two stimulus films. As hypothesized, multiple target/suspect choices had incriminating value whereas multiple rejections, foil choices, and don't know answers had mostly exonerating value. For suspect choices, the combination of all three lineup modes consistently elicited high diagnosticities across targets. Combinations of non-suspect choices (rejections, foil choices, or don't know answers) were less successful and the different combinations showed less consistency in terms of diagnosticity. It was concluded that the use of multiple lineups, such as different facial poses and different aspects of a person should be particularly beneficial in three situations: if a witness only saw the perpetrator from a pose different than the frontal view normally used for lineups; if one or more witnesses saw the perpetrator from more than one perspective; and if different witnesses saw the perpetrator from different perspectives.

Keywords: multiple lineups; change of view; rejections, foil selections; don't know answers.


El estudio tuvo como objetivo establecer el valor diagnóstico de decisiones múltiples en ruedas fotográficas de identificación de la cara, cuerpo y de perfil, que implican múltiples elecciones del objetivo/sospechoso; rechazos, elecciones de cebos, y respuestas "no sé". Un total de 192 participantes identificaron a un ladrón y a la víctima de un robo en ruedas independientes y simultáneas de perfil, cuerpo o cara de 6 personas con el objetivo presente o ausente. En consonancia con las hipótesis planteadas, elecciones múltiples del objetivo/sospechoso tenían valor incriminatorio mientras que múltiples rechazos, elecciones de cebos y respuestas no sé, generalmente tenían valor exonerante. En las elecciones del sospechoso, la combinación de los tres formatos de ruedas de identificación dio lugar, de modo consistente, a diagnósticos correctos. Las combinaciones de decisiones de no-sospechosos (rechazos, elecciones de cebos, o respuestas no sé) resultaron menos exitosas, al tiempo que las diferentes combinaciones mostraron una menor consistencia en el diagnóstico. Se concluye que el uso de múltiples ruedas de identificación, tales como diferentes poses faciales y diferentes aspectos de una persona deberían ser particularmente beneficiosos en tres situaciones: si un testigo sólo vio al perpetrador desde una posición diferente a la frontal que es la forma de presentación característica de las ruedas; si uno o más testigos vieron al perpetrador desde más de una perspectiva; y si diferentes testigos vieron al perpetrador desde perspectivas diferentes.

Palabras clave: ruedas de identificación múltiples; cambio de perspectiva; rechazos; elección de cebos; respuestas no sé.


In eyewitness identifications, system or control variables refer to those factors that the judicial system and police forces have an influence on (Wells, 1978). Therefore, they are of particular interest with regard to legal policy. Among the most studied control variables are pre-lineup instructions (Clark, 2005), the method for selecting foils (Wells, Rydell, & Seelau, 1993) as well as the lineup presentation mode (Steblay, Dysart, & Wells, 2011). A relatively new system variable is the usage of multiple lineups. Here, witnesses identify different aspects of a target (i.e., face, body, voice, clothing) in independent lineups which omit all other aspects (i.e., faces cannot be seen in body lineups). The rationale behind this approach is that the probability that a witness identifies a suspect by chance is potentially decreased with every additional aspect that has to be identified. …

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