Law and Human Behavior, Vol. 25, No. 2, 2001
The Effect of Exposure to Multiple Lineups
on Face Identification Accuracy
Tiffany Hinz1and Kathy Pezdek1,2
This study examines the conditions under which an intervening lineup affects identi-
fication accuracy on a subsequent lineup. One hundred and sixty adults observed a
photograph of one target individual for 60 s. One week later, they viewed an inter-
vening target-absent lineup and were asked to identify the target individual. Two days
later, participants were shown one of three 6-person lineups that included a different
from the intervening lineup was absent from the test lineup and the false alarm rate
was greater when the target face was absent from the test lineup. The results suggest
that simply being exposed to an innocent suspect in an intervening lineup, whether that
tifying the innocent suspect and decreases the probability of correctly identifying the
true perpetrator in a subsequent test lineup. The implications of these findings both for
police lineup procedures and for the interpretation of lineup results in the courtroom
Consider the following hypothetical situation. A crime occurs and during the police
investigation a suspect is apprehended. The witness is brought in to view a lineup
and asked to make an identification. The suspect is truly innocent and the witness
found. Now the witness is asked back to a second lineup that consists of the innocent
lineup, the witness now chooses the innocent suspect she saw in the first lineup but
failed to identify. The police consider this a correct identification and proceed with
the prosecution of the innocent suspect. This scenario depicts the potential danger
of how intervening lineups may influence identification accuracy.
1Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California.
2To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department of Psychology, Claremont Graduate Uni-
versity, 123 East Eighth Street, Claremont, California 91711-3955; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
0147-7307/01/0400-0185$19.50/1 C ?2001 American Psychology-Law Society/Division 41 of the American Psychology Association
186 Hinz and Pezdek
The problem of decreased identification accuracy after viewing mugshot pho-
tographs was first noted by the U.S. Supreme Court in Simmons v. United States
(1968). The court maintained that viewing mugshot photographs may have detri-
mental effects on identification accuracy because “the witness...is apt to retain in
his memory the image of the photograph rather than of the person actually seen”
(quoted in Brown, Deffenbacher, & Sturgill, 1977, p. 312). Since this ruling, numer-
ous studies have examined the extent to which intervening mugshot photographs
influence identification accuracy.
In one of the first studies examining the effects of intervening lineups on the
accuracy of subsequent eyewitness identification, Brown et al. (1977) examined
the relationship between viewing previously seen mugshot photographs with either
3, two sets of “criminals” distributed materials to participants on the day of a sched-
class encountered the other set of criminals. Three days after the exam, participants
were asked to identify the “criminals” from a series of 12 pairs of mugshot pho-
tographs. For a given witness, one pair of photographs was composed of the criminal
they encountered in class and a criminal that they did not encounter in class. Four
to five days later, each participant was shown a lineup that consisted of a criminal
with a mugshot, a criminal not seen in the mugshot phase, a foil seen in the mugshot
phase, and an unfamiliar lineup foil. The hit rate for the criminal with a mugshot
was .45, for the criminal without a mugshot it was .24, and for the foil in an earlier
mugshot it was .29. Participants were most accurate recognizing the criminal whose
mugshot was previously seen. However, participants chose the innocent person seen
photograph they did not see.
intervening photographs influence eyewitness identification accuracy. First, partici-
pants watched a videotaped staged crime. Approximately 20 min. later, the experi-
mental group was shown a series of mugshot photographs that did not contain the
participants were asked to identify the criminal from a target-present lineup. The hit
rate was .69 in the control condition and .36 in the experimental condition. Similarly,
the participants in the control condition who did not view the mugshot photographs
correctly identified the target photograph; only 22% of the participants in the exper-
imental condition did so. Furthermore, on the final test lineup 44% of participants
in the experimental condition incorrectly identified the photograph they had chosen
during the intervening phase.
The research on the effect of intervening lineups on subsequent identification
1978; Pezdek, 1977), participants first witness an event. Next, participants in the ex-
perimental condition receive misleading information about the original event; those
in the control condition do not receive misleading information. Finally, participants
The Effect of Exposure to Multiple Lineups197
colleagues (Wells et al., 1998) that more than one suspect should not be presented
in any single lineup.
that it is particularly important to treat positive identifications with skepticism if the
identifications occurred after viewing multiple intervening lineups. In such cases,
one cannot dismiss the possibility that the identifications resulted from familiarity
based on viewing the previous lineup rather than from the witness’s memory for the
actual perpetrator. That is, once eyewitnesses are exposed to intervening lineups,
their subsequent identifications are specious at best.
APPENDIX: STORY READ TO PARTICIPANTS
IN THE PRESENTATION PHASE
This is Steve Kent. He is currently living in Connecticut and attending Yale.
He will be graduating with a major in English Literature next Spring. He dreams of
becoming a writer. He lives in a small 2-bedroom apartment that is located 1 mile
from campus. He shares the apartment with another student named Joshua Fisher,
who is Steve’s very best friend. Both Steve and Joshua are the copresidents of the
chess club. Steve’s mom, Mildred, is very happy that Steve has made a lot of friends
at Yale. She was worried that Steve might be lonely in college because he was so
shy and introverted while growing up. “He just preferred to read books by himself
than to hang out with his classmates,” said Mildred. However, by the end of high
school, Mildred admits that all of Steve’s reading and studying paid off. Steve Kent
was elected the valedictorian of his class. Steve said that becoming the valedictorian
gave him the confidence to apply for admission to Yale. After he was accepted to
Yale, he vowed that he was going to overcome his shyness, make friends, and make
the best of his college career. Steve Kent has kept his promise.
This research was funded by a grant to the second author from the National
Science Foundation, Division of Law and Social Sciences.
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