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Some witnesses are better than others

By Stephen Darling, Douglas Martin, Jens Hinrich Hellmann and Amina Memon


This paper reports a single study in which individual differences in visual processing were assessed in comparison with participants' ability to identify a culprit from a lineup. There were two parts to the study, separated by several weeks. In the first part, participants were asked to report on the global and local aspects of stimuli (first used by Navon (1977)) comprising large letters made up of small individual letters. Measures were taken of the degree of interference caused when the letters conflicted (e.g. a large letter P composed of small letter Ss). In the second part of the study, participants viewed a video of a crime, and subsequently attempted to identify the culprit from a lineup. We found that there was an association between the interference caused by conflicting global information when participants were reporting local letters, and identification performance. Those participants that were most susceptible to global interference identified the culprit more often than those who were the least susceptible to conflicting global information. These results establish a relationship between an individual differences measure of global/local processing and eyewitness recognition performance, suggesting that participants with a relative global processing bias might make better eyewitnesses. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved

Year: 2009
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