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    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Russ, Andrew J. Sauerland, Melanie Lee, Charlotte E. and Bindemann, Markus 2018. Individual differences in eyewitness accuracy across multiple lineups of faces. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, Vol. 3, Issue. 1,

    Baldassari, Mario J. Kantner, Justin and Lindsay, D. Stephen 2018. The importance of decision bias for predicting eyewitness lineup choices: toward a lineup skills test. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, Vol. 3, Issue. 1,

    Megreya, Ahmed M and Bindemann, Markus 2015. Developmental Improvement and Age-Related Decline in Unfamiliar Face Matching. Perception, Vol. 44, Issue. 1, p. 5.

    Megreya, Ahmed M. and Burton, A. Mike 2006. Recognising faces seen alone or with others: when two heads are worse than one. Applied Cognitive Psychology, Vol. 20, Issue. 7, p. 957.

    Porter, Stephen Birt, Angela R. Yuille, John C. and Lehman, Darrin R. 2000. Negotiating False Memories: Interviewer and Rememberer Characteristics Relate to Memory Distortion. Psychological Science, Vol. 11, Issue. 6, p. 507.

    Geiselman, R. Edward Schroppel, Tammy Tubridy, Anthony Konishi, Tania and Rodriguez, Vanessa 2000. Objectivity bias in eyewitness performance. Applied Cognitive Psychology, Vol. 14, Issue. 4, p. 323.

    Slone, Ashlyn E. Brigham, John C. and Meissner, Christian A. 2000. Social and Cognitive Factors Affecting the Own-Race Bias in Whites. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 22, Issue. 2, p. 71.

    Searcy, Jean H. Bartlett, James C. and Memon, Amina 1999. Age differences in accuracy and choosing in eyewitness identification and face recognition. Memory & Cognition, Vol. 27, Issue. 3, p. 538.

    Hyman, Ira E. and James Billings, F. 1998. Individual Differences and the Creation of False Childhood Memories. Memory, Vol. 6, Issue. 1, p. 1.

    Geiselman, R. Edward Haghighi, David and Stown, Ronna 1996. Unconscious transference and characteristics of accurate and inaccurate eyewitnesses. Psychology, Crime & Law, Vol. 2, Issue. 3, p. 197.

  • Print publication year: 1994
  • Online publication date: August 2010

15 - Individual differences in personality and eyewitness identification


Although much empirical research has been conducted during the last decade evaluating variables that influence the accuracy of eyewitness identification, the majority of studies have focused on the effects of situational variables (see the other chapters in this volume). In contrast, little is understood about the influence of individual differences in personality and their effects on identification.

There are two primary reasons for this dearth of research. First, most researchers in the eyewitness field have earned their degrees in social or cognitive psychology. They continue to do research from these perspectives, neither of which focuses on individual differences, and have historically treated such differences as experimental error (see Cronbach, 1957) to be eliminated with tighter experimental control.

The second reason relates to a belief articulated in a seminal paper by Wells on the difference between system and estimator variables in eyewitness identification (Wells, 1978). System variables are those that can be manipulated in actual criminal cases, such as the structure of lineups, the time lapse between the crime occurrence and identification, or the use of techniques designed to elicit maximal recall of information (compare Geiselman, Fisher, MacKinnon, & Holland, 1985, 1986).

Estimator variables are those that cannot be controlled in criminal cases and the effects of which must therefore be estimated after the fact. Estimator variables include characteristics of defendants such as their race or attractiveness, characteristics of the crime such as its perceived seriousness, and characteristics of eyewitnesses such as individual differences in personality.

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Adult Eyewitness Testimony
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