The General Acceptance of Psychological Research on Eyewitness Testimony: A Survey of the Experts
Sixty-three experts on eyewitness testimony were surveyed about their courtroom experiences and opinions on various issues. There was a strong consensus indicated by an agreement rate of at least 80% that the data on the following topics are reliable enough to present in court: the wording of questions, lineup instructions, misleading postevent information, the accuracy-confidence correlation, attitudes and expectations, exposure time, unconscious transference, showups, and the forgetting curve. Over 70% of the experts also endorsed lineup fairness, the cross-race identification bias among White witnesses, and the tendency to overestimate the duration of events. Although most eyewitness experts who have testified have done so on behalf of criminal defendants, they were just as likely to consent for the prosecution as for the defense; moreover, they were more likely to agree to testify in civil cases than in criminal. Concerning their role in court, most respondents indicated that their main objective is to educate the jury, and that juries are more competent with the aid of experts than without. The results are discussed in relation to the "general acceptance" provision of the Frye test and the limitations of this test for determining the admissibility of expert testimony.