Title

The effect of authority and social influence on eyewitness suggestibility and person recognition

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor's Name

Ronald Fisher

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Janat Parker

Third Advisor's Name

Brian Cutler

Keywords

Eyewitness identification, Forensic psychology

Date of Defense

6-28-1994

Abstract

This study investigated the influence of an authority figure on an eyewitness identification task. Subjects watched a staged crime and then were administered a photo lineup by either an authority or non-authority figure. Subjects who were administered a lineup by an authority figure were significantly more likely to choose someone from the lineup than subjects who were shown a lineup by a non-authority figure. Similarly, subjects who were given biased instructions were significantly more likely to choose someone from the lineup than subjects who were given unbiased instructions. These effect obtained whether the target was present or absent from the lineup. These data suggest that one way to minimize suggestibility of eyewitnesses is to replace the uniformed officer with a neutral individual. Alternatively, the effect of a police officer on a witness' choosing behavior may be eliminated by providing the witness with unbiased instructions.

Identifier

FI14062252

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