Eyewitness lineups: Is the appearance-change instruction a good idea? Article

Charman, SD, Wells, GL. (2007). Eyewitness lineups: Is the appearance-change instruction a good idea? . LAW AND HUMAN BEHAVIOR, 31(1), 3-22. 10.1007/s10979-006-9006-3

cited authors

  • Charman, SD; Wells, GL


  • The Department of Justice's Guide for lineups recommends warning eyewitnesses that the culprit's appearance might have changed since the time of the crime. This appearance-change instruction (ACI) has never been empirically tested. A video crime with four culprits was viewed by 289 participants who then attempted to identify the culprits from four 6-person arrays that either included or did not include the culprit. Participants either received the ACI or not and all were warned that the culprit might or might not be in the arrays. The culprits varied in how much their appearance changed from the video to their lineup arrays, but the ACI did not improve identification decisions for any of the lineups. Collapsed over the four culprits, the ACI increased false alarms and filler identifications but did not increase culprit identifications. The ACI reduced confidence and increased response latency. Two processes that could account for these results are discussed, namely a decision criterion shift and a general increase in ecphoric similarity. © 2006 American Psychology-Law Society/Division 41 of the American Psychology Association.

publication date

  • February 1, 2007

published in

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 3

end page

  • 22


  • 31


  • 1