Modern Psychological Studies
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Place of Publication
Eyewitnesses are an important component of criminal justice protocol; however, if inaccurate, there are grave consequences. The prevalent use of eyewitness accounts, despite the limits and fallibility of human memory demonstrate the need for research on factors affecting credible eyewitness accounts. The current study examines how the introduction of misinformation affects eyewitness accuracy and confidence when the race/ethnicity of the perpetrator is different from, compared to when the race of the perpetrator is the same as, the race/ethnicity of the eyewitness. A total of 69 White/European participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions where they read a University-Issued Email Alert describing and depicting (through a photograph) either a Black/African or a White/European American individual suspected of a crime on campus. In a follow-up University-Issued Email Alert, participants were or were not introduced to misinformation through the use of the same or a different perpetrator photograph, respectively. All participants then completed a questionnaire assessing their ability to and confidence in accurately identify the correct perpetrator from a photo lineup. Results revealed that participants were less accurate and less confident in identifying the correct perpetrator when misinformation was present compared to absent. Additionally, participants were less accurate and less confident when the race/ethnicity of the perpetrator was different from their own race/ethnicity rather than when the race/ethnicity of the perpetrator was the same as their own race/ethnicity. This study contributes to the literature on understanding the limits of eyewitness accuracy and confidence.
Wilson, Rachel A. and Sonnentag, Tammy L.
"The Effect of Race of the Perpetrator and Misinformation on Eyewitness Accuracy and Confidence,"
Modern Psychological Studies: Vol. 26
, Article 8.
Available at: https://scholar.utc.edu/mps/vol26/iss1/8