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Undermining position effects in choices from arrays: How to stop witnesses guessing from the middle of lineups

Palmer, MA ORCID: 0000-0002-3467-3364, Sauer, JD ORCID: 0000-0002-0872-3647 and Holt, GA ORCID: 0000-0002-4839-3283 2017 , 'Undermining position effects in choices from arrays: How to stop witnesses guessing from the middle of lineups' , Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, vol. 23 , pp. 71-84 , doi:

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Choices from arrays are often characterized by position effects, such as edge-aversion. Weinvestigated position effects when participants attempted to pick a suspect from an arraysimilar to a police photo lineup. A re-analysis of data from two large-scale field studiesshowed that choices made under realistic conditions—closely matching eyewitnessidentification decisions in police investigations—displayed edge-aversion and bias to choosefrom the top row (Study 1). In a series of experiments (Studies 2a-2c and 3), participantsguessing the location of a suspect exhibited edge-aversion regardless of whether the lineupwas constructed to maximize the chances of the suspect being picked, to ensure the suspectdid not stand out, or randomly. Participants favored top locations only when the lineup wasconstructed to maximize the chances of the suspect being picked. In Studies 4 and 5, positioneffects disappeared when (a) response options were presented in an array with no obviouscenter, edges, or corners, and (b) instructions stated that the suspect was placed randomly.These findings show that position effects are influenced by a combination of task instructionsand array shape. Randomizing the location of the suspect and modifying the shape of thelineup array may reduce misidentification.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Palmer, MA and Sauer, JD and Holt, GA
Keywords: eyewitness Identification, centrality bias,
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Publisher: Amer Psychological Assoc
ISSN: 1076-898X
DOI / ID Number:
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© 2017 American Psychological AssociationThis article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record. It has not yet been published.

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