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Unformatted text preview: 1998, V o l. S3, N o. 3, 3 6 0 -3 7 6 Copyright 1998 by the Am erican Psychological A ssociation, IDC. 0021-901(V98/$3.0C ' 'G ood, "fou Identified the S u sp e c t'': Feedback to Eyew itnesses D istorts Their R eports of the W itnessing Experience G a ry L . W ells a n d A m y L . B ra d fie ld Iowa State University People viewed a security video and tried to identify the gunman from a photospread. The actual gunman was not in the photospread and all eyewitnesses made false identifica- tions (n = 352). Following the identification, witnesses were given confirming feedback ("G ood, you identified the actual su sp ect"), disconfirming feedback ("Actually, the suspect is number ' ' ) , or no feedback. The manipulations produced strong effects on the witnesses' retrospective reports of (a) their certainty, (b) the quality of view they had, (c) the clarity of their memory, (d) the speed with which they identified the person, and (e) several other measures. Eyewitnesses who were asked about their certainty prior to the feedback manipulation (Experiment 2) were less influenced, but large effects still emerged on some measures. The magnitude of the effect was as strong for those who denied that the feedback influenced them as it was for those who admitted to the influence. Eyewitness to a crime on viewing a lineup: ' 'Oh, m y G od . . . I don't know . . . It's o n e o f those tw o . . . b u t I don't know . . . O h, m an . . . the guy a little bit taller than number two . . . It's one of those tw o, but I don't know .'' Eyewitness 30 min later, still viewing the lineup and having difficulty making a decision: "I don't know . . . number tw o?" Officer administering lineup: "O kay." Months later. . . at trial: "You were positive it w as number two? It wasn't a m aybe?" Answer from eyew itness: "There was no maybe about it . . . I w as absolutely positive." (Missouri v. Huchting, 1996, p. 202) T he eyew itness in the above case spent 30 m in trying to identify her attacker from a lin eu p of four people. H er behavior at the tim e indicated a great deal of uncertainty about w hich, if any, of the people in the lineup w as the attacker. Later, at trial, how ever, she recalls having been absolutely positive about her identification from the lineup. H ow could this happen? T he current article tests Gary L. Wells and Amy L. Bradfield, Department of Psychol- ogy, Iowa State University. This research was supported by a grant to Gary L. Wells from the National Science Foundation (S B R 9308275). We thank Rana Alexander, Joy Carr, and Maria Jenkins for their assistance in conducting experimental sessions. We thank Paul W indschitl for comments on an earlier version. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Gary L. Wells, Department of Psychology, Iowa State Univer- sity, Ames, Iowa 50011. Electronic mail may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org....
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This note was uploaded on 04/09/2008 for the course SOP 4842 taught by Professor Reardon during the Spring '08 term at FIU.
- Spring '08