In the USA and the UK, many thousands of police suspects are identified by eyewitnesses every year. Unfortunately, many of those suspects are innocent, which becomes evident when they are exonerated by DNA testing, often after having been imprisoned for years. It is, therefore, imperative to use identification procedures that best enable eyewitnesses to discriminate innocent from guilty suspects. Although police investigators in both countries often administer line-up procedures, the details of how line-ups are presented are quite different and an important direct comparison has yet to be conducted. We investigated whether these two line-up procedures differ in terms of (i) discriminability (using receiver operating characteristic analysis) and (ii) reliability (using confidence-accuracy characteristic analysis). A total of 2249 participants watched a video of a crime and were later tested using either a six-person simultaneous photo line-up procedure (USA) or a nine-person sequential video line-up procedure (UK). US line-up procedure yielded significantly higher discriminability and significantly higher reliability. The results do not pinpoint the reason for the observed difference between the two procedures, but they do suggest that there is much room for improvement with the UK line-up.
- Cognitive Science