Video-recording Eyewitness Identification Lineups: Testing for Unanticipated Costs and Undiscovered Benefits Grant

Video-recording Eyewitness Identification Lineups: Testing for Unanticipated Costs and Undiscovered Benefits .


  • One of the primary recommendations regarding eyewitness evidence is to video record witnesses' lineup identifications. The underlying rationale for this recommendation is intuitive: a video-record provides information about deviations from best practices and may promote lineup administrator compliance with established guidelines. As much as these benefits resonate with psychological researchers, there is no research on any potential costs to video-recording. For example, it is unknown whether the act of video-recording negatively impacts witnesses' decision-making process. Furthermore, the intuitive benefits described above are likely a small subset of the potential advantages of video-recording identification procedures. The purpose of the proposed studies is, therefore, to test for possible additional benefits to video-recording that might accrue across the spectrum of an eyewitness's interaction with the justice system and to identify potential costs of the recommendation. The results from the proposed research will either provide additional support for this recommendation, thereby encouraging reluctant police departments to adopt the practice, or will highlight concerns regarding its implementation. As responsible advocates of science-based recommendations, psychological scientists must find answers to these questions in order to determine how to implement this recommendation. The research will be conducted in three phases. In the first phase, an experiment tests whether video-recordings of eyewitness lineup identifications reveal different non-verbal behaviors between accurate and inaccurate witnesses, information which could be used by the legal system to assess witness reliability. In addition, the experiment tests whether witnesses make different identification decisions as a function of being recorded, as predicted by theoretical models of eyewitness decision-making. The second phase tests whether showing witnesses a video of their own identification inoculates witnesses from harmful confidence inflation produced by post-identification feedback, a potentially beneficial effect predicted by theoretical models of eyewitness confidence assessment. One experiment in this phase tests whether this effect is moderated by camera perspective; a second experiment tests whether this effect is moderated by the difficulty of the lineup task. The final phase tests whether showing fact-finders a video of an eyewitness identification procedure assists them in discriminating accurate from inaccurate witnesses. One experiment in this phase tests whether this benefit depends on fact-finders' prior beliefs about the guilt of the identified person. A second experiment tests whether an empirically-validated checklist containing information about witnesses' non-verbal cues to accuracy improves the ability to discriminate accurate from inaccurate witnesses. As a whole, the proposed experiments test heretofore unexamined benefits and costs of video-recording eyewitnesses' identifications. From a practical perspective, data from these experiments can be used to develop recommendations regarding how to implement the video-recording recommendation as well as how to use those video-recordings to improve fact-finder decision-making. From a theoretical perspective, data obtained from these experiments might suggest essential refinements to models of witness decision-making and retrospective confidence reports.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

date/time interval

  • March 1, 2019 - February 28, 2023

administered by

sponsor award ID

  • 1849438