Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Distance influences accuracy of eyewitness IDs

Date:
May 13, 2014
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
A new study has used a controlled outside setting and actual people to test eyewitness accuracy across a variety of distances. Eyewitness accuracy declines steadily and quite measuredly as the distance increases. Additionally, a good deal of guess work or so-called "false alarms" also comes into play as the distance increases. These findings have implications for the trustworthiness of eyewitness accounts that are used to solve criminal cases.

A new study has used a controlled outside setting and actual people to test eyewitness accuracy across a variety of distances.

Eyewitness accuracy declines steadily and quite measuredly as the distance increases. Additionally, a good deal of guess work or so-called "false alarms" also comes into play as the distance increases. These findings have implications for the trustworthiness of eyewitness accounts that are used to solve criminal cases. Research led by James Lampinen of the University of Arkansas in the US and published in Springer's journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review sheds light on the matter.

Eyewitness identification plays a crucial role in approximately 80,000 criminal cases per year in the United States. While other research has already examined the relationship between identification accuracy and distance, this study is the first to do so under carefully controlled outdoor conditions, and by using actual people. The researchers asked 195 college students to view 8 people who were presented to them at 6 different distances, ranging between 5 yards (4.6 meters) and 40 yards (36.6 meters). They were then shown 16 photographs: 8 of the targets they saw, and 8 photographs of other people that matched a description of the initial targets. Participants used an eight-point scale to indicate just how confident they were about having seen each individual before.

Similar to the findings of previous research, Lampinen's group observed a steady decrease of 0.55 percent per yard (91 cm) in correct identifications being made. This was further coupled with an increase in false alarms (at 0..44 percent per yard) as the distance between the witness and the target grew.

The research team made a new discovery in finding that the response biasof witnesses grew increasingly liberal as distances grew greater. These results conform to the principles of Face-Space theory that there is a so-called "average" face around which clusters a multitude of faces that are similar in appearance, while dissimilar faces lie farther apart. According to facial averaging, the fine-grained details that are normally captured if faces are viewed close up are filtered out as distance increases. This in turn makes the faces more average-looking, and therefore makes them more similar in appearance.

"For smaller crimes such as burglary, robbery, non-sexual assault, or vandalism, DNA is rarely available at the crime scene and not typically appropriate to the case. Although penalties for such crimes are light compared to sexual crimes or murders, the future lives of those convicted could still be compromised if eyewitness accounts alone are taken into account," says Lampinen. He stresses the need for further research about the quality and accuracy of eyewitness accounts that are used for forensic purposes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. James Michael Lampinen, William Blake Erickson, Kara N. Moore, Aaron Hittson. Effects of distance on face recognition: implications for eyewitness identification. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 2014; DOI: 10.3758/s13423-014-0641-2

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "Distance influences accuracy of eyewitness IDs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140513121641.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2014, May 13). Distance influences accuracy of eyewitness IDs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 14, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140513121641.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "Distance influences accuracy of eyewitness IDs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140513121641.htm (accessed September 14, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Frustration As Drone Industry Outpaces Regulation In U.S.

Frustration As Drone Industry Outpaces Regulation In U.S.

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) U.S. firms worry they’re falling behind in the marketplace as the FAA considers how to regulate commercial drones. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Museum Traces Fragments of Star-Spangled Banner

Museum Traces Fragments of Star-Spangled Banner

AP (Sep. 12, 2014) As the Star-Spangled Banner celebrates its bicentennial, Smithsonian curators are still uncovering fragments of the original flag that inspired Francis Scott Key's poem. (Sept. 12) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins