Eyewitness descriptions without memory: The (f)utility of describing faces

Kramer, Robin S. S. and Gous, Georgina (2020) Eyewitness descriptions without memory: The (f)utility of describing faces. Applied Cognitive Psychology . ISSN 0888-4080

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1002/acp.3645

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Eyewitness descriptions without memory: The (f)utility of describing faces
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Abstract

Eyewitness descriptions provide critical information for the police and other agencies to use during investigations. While researchers have typically considered the impact of memory, little consideration has been given to the utility of facial descriptions themselves, without the additional memory demands. In Experiment 1, participants described face images to their partners, who were then required to select these faces from photographic lineups. Performance was error‐prone when the same image appeared in the lineup (73% correct), and decreased further when a different image of the same face was presented (22% correct). We found some evidence to suggest this was due, in part, to difficulties with recognizing that two different images depicted the same person. In Experiment 2, we demonstrated that descriptions of the same face given by different people showed only moderate agreement. Taken together, these results highlight the problematic nature of facial descriptions, even without memory, and their limited utility.

Keywords:agreement, eyewitness, face matching, facial descriptions, memory
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C850 Cognitive Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C830 Experimental Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C810 Applied Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:40165
Deposited On:06 Mar 2020 09:39

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