The influence of the cross -race effect on lineup construction and fairness

Tara Leigh Mitchell, Florida International University


Lineup procedures have recently garnered extensive empirical attention, in an effort to reduce the number of mistaken identifications that plague the criminal justice system. Relatively little attention, however, has been paid to the influence of the lineup constructor or the lineup construction technique on the quality of the lineup. This study examined whether the cross-race effect has an influence on the quality of lineups constructed using a match-to-suspect or match-to-description technique in a series of three phases. Participants generated descriptions of same- and other-race targets in Phase 1, which were used in Phase 2. In Phase 2, participants were asked to create lineups for own-race targets and other-race targets using one of two techniques. The lineups created in this phase were examined for lineup quality in Phase 3 by calculating lineup fairness assessments through the use of a mock witness paradigm. Overall, the results of these experiment phases suggest that the race of those involved in the lineup construction process influences lineups. There was no difference in witness description accuracy in Phase 1, which ran counter to predictions based on the cross-race effect. The cross-race effect was observed, however, in Phases 2 and 3. The lineup construction technique used also influenced several of the process measures, selection estimates, and fairness judgments in Phase 2. Interestingly, the presence of the cross-race effect was in the opposite direction as predicted for some measures in both phases. In Phase 2, the cross-race effect was as predicted for number of foils viewed, but in the opposite direction for average time spent viewing each foil. In Phase 3, the cross-race effect was in the opposite direction than predicted, with higher levels of lineup fairness in other-race lineups. The practical implications of these findings are discussed in relation to lineup fairness within the legal system.

Subject Area

Psychology|Experiments|Cognitive therapy|Law

Recommended Citation

Mitchell, Tara Leigh, "The influence of the cross -race effect on lineup construction and fairness" (2005). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3169464.