Does expert psychological testimony improve juror sensitivity to lineup suggestiveness?

Jennifer Leigh Devenport, Florida International University


Previous research has examined the validity of behavioral assumptions underlying the presumed effectiveness of safeguards against erroneous conviction resulting from mistaken eyewitness identification. In keeping with this agenda, this study examined juror sensitivity to lineup suggestiveness in the form of foil, instruction, and presentation biases and whether expert psychological testimony further sensitizes jurors to the factors that influence the likelihood of false identifications. One hundred and sixty jury eligible citizens watched versions of a videotaped trial that included information about the identification of the defendant by an eyewitness and that varied the suggestiveness of the eyewitness identification procedure. In addition, half of the mock-jurors heard the testimony of an expert psychologist regarding the factors that influence lineup suggestiveness. Mock-jurors rendered individual verdicts, rated the defendant's culpability and the suggestiveness and fairness of the identification procedure. Results indicated that jurors are somewhat sensitive to foil bias but are insensitive to instruction and presentation biases. No evidence was found to suggest that expert testimony leads to juror skepticism or juror sensitization. These results question the effectiveness of cross-examination and expert testimony as safeguards against erroneous convictions resulting from mistaken identification.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Psychology|Experiments|Criminology

Recommended Citation

Devenport, Jennifer Leigh, "Does expert psychological testimony improve juror sensitivity to lineup suggestiveness?" (1996). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9700498.