Office of Research, UC Riverside
Steven Clark
Professor of Psychology
Psychology
clark@ucr.edu
(951) 827-5541


Critical Tests of Decision Models for Eyewitness Identification

AWARD NUMBER
005025-002
FUND NUMBER
22286
STATUS
Closed
AWARD TYPE
3-Grant
AWARD EXECUTION DATE
1/26/2011
BEGIN DATE
2/1/2011
END DATE
1/31/2014
AWARD AMOUNT
$274,596

Sponsor Information

SPONSOR AWARD NUMBER
1061183
SPONSOR
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
SPONSOR TYPE
Federal
FUNCTION
Organized Research
PROGRAM NAME

Proposal Information

PROPOSAL NUMBER
11012927
PROPOSAL TYPE
New
ACTIVITY TYPE
Basic Research

PI Information

PI
Clark, Steven
PI TITLE
Other
PI DEPTARTMENT
Psychology
PI COLLEGE/SCHOOL
Coll of Hum, Arts & Social Sci
CO PIs

Project Information

ABSTRACT

It is well-established that eyewitnesses make identification errors. If the eyewitness is unable to make a correct identification, a criminal may escape justice and continue to present a threat to society. If the witness makes a false identification, an innocent person may be prosecuted and convicted of a crime he did not commit. The healthy functioning of the criminal justice system requires that such errors occur as infrequently as possible. In order to minimize eyewitness errors, we must understand why witnesses make errors. The present research seeks to understand the causes of eyewitness identification errors by developing, testing, and refining a psychological theory of the eyewitness. The theory, called the Witness model, describes the memory and decision processes that underlie eyewitness identification decisions, and makes quantitative predictions that can be compared to data. The data come from eyewitness identification experiments, conducted under controlled conditions. The participants in the experiments become witnesses to a staged crime, and are later shown either a perpetrator-present or a perpetrator-absent lineup. The perpetrator-present lineup simulates those real-world cases in which the police suspect is guilty, whereas the perpetrator-absent lineup simulates those real world cases in which the police suspect is innocent. The key data are the correct identification rates of the guilty and the false identification rates of the innocent. The probative value of identification evidence is maximized when the correct identification rate is high and the false identification rate is low. The first series of experiments examines how the probative value of identification evidence varies as a function of the way police create lineups and the decision processes that witnesses use to make identification decisions. The second set of experiments examines how a witness?s decision processes distribute accuracy and error across the members of a lineup.
(Abstract from NSF)