Eyewitness Identification

Double-blind lineup administration refers to a lineup in which the lineup administrator does not know the identity of the suspect in the lineup.  Gary Wells, Amy Bradfield, and others have shown that knowledge of a lineup administrator can influence a witness’s professed confidence in the accuracy of their lineup decision.  Does an investigator’s knowledge of a suspect’s identity influence the accuracy of eyewitness identifications?  We have been testing this proposition in our laboratory.  Our research suggests that the effect of double-blind lineup administration may be strongest when other factors are present that decrease the reliability of eyewitness identifications (e.g., biased lineup instructions, simultaneous lineup presentation) and that this effect occurs outside the awareness of either the lineup administrator or the witness (Greathouse & Kovera, 2009).   In addition, we have recently completed data collection for a series of studies that examines whether the effects of double-blind lineup administration are moderated by the similarity of the innocent suspect to the appearance of the perpetrator and by variables that influence the strength of a witness’s memory trace for the perpetrator (e.g., retention interval, exposure duration).

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Numbers 9986240 and 0922314. (Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Publications and Presentations

  • Austin, J. L., Zimmerman, D. M., Rhead, L., & Kovera, M. B. (2013).  Double-blind lineup administration.  In B. L. Cutler (Ed.), Reform of eyewitness identification procedures (pp. 139-160)Washington, DC:  The American Psychological Association.
  • Cutler, B. L., & Kovera, M. B.  (2012).  Evaluation for eyewitness evidence.  In R. Roesch & P. A. Zapf (Eds.), Forensic Assessments in Criminal and Civil Law: A Handbook for Lawyers (pp. 118-132)New York: Oxford University Press. 
  • Zimmerman, D., Austin, J., & Kovera, M. B.  (2012).  Suggestive eyewitness identification procedures.  In B. L. Cutler (Ed.), Conviction of the innocent: Lessons from psychological research (pp. 125-148).  Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Cutler, B. L., & Kovera, M. B. (2010).  Evaluating eyewitness identification.  New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Greathouse, S. M., & Kovera, M. B.  (2009).  Instruction bias and lineup presentation moderate the effects of administrator knowledge on eyewitness identification.  Law and Human Behavior, 33, 70-82.
  • Russano, M. B., Dickinson, J. J., Greathouse, S. M., & Kovera, M. B.  (2006).  “Why don’t you take another look at number three?”  Investigator knowledge and its effects on eyewitness confidence and identification decisions.  Cardozo Public Law, Policy, and Ethics Journal, 4, 355-379.
  • Phillips, M., McAuliff, B. D., Kovera, M. B., & Cutler, B. L.  (1999).  Double-blind lineup administration as a safeguard against investigator bias. Journal of Applied Psychology, 84, 940-951.