Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Ronald Fisher

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Bennett Schwartz

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Stephen Charman

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Amy Hyman-Gregory

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


showup, interview, witness, misinformation, witness identification, identification decision

Date of Defense



Showups account for 30%-77% of initial identification procedures conducted by police (Flowe et al., 2001; Gonzalez et al., 1993; McQuiston & Malpass, 2001). Unlike lineups, showups are typically administered within a few hours of the crime event. The administration of a showup, due to its timing, is likely to precede a more formal police interview. The showup may introduce new characteristics of the suspect’s physical appearance to the witness. Any new characteristics inconsistent with the perpetrator’s appearance at the crime can be considered misinformation, which has the potential to contaminate witness recall. Although the contaminating effects of a showup have been demonstrated on successive identification procedures (Memon et al., 2002), showup contamination of witness recall has not been investigated.

The current project investigated the extent to which misinformation displayed during a showup was incorporated into a later recall attempt and how a witness’ identification decision influences the incorporation of misinformation into recall. Participants first viewed a mock crime video and afterward were administered a showup that was either consistent in appearance with the perpetrator or inconsistent with the perpetrator (misinformation) in the crime. After participants made an identification decision, they were asked open and cued recall questions about the videoed event and the perpetrator. In the present study, exposure to a showup containing misinformation caused participant witnesses to recall that misinformation later when asked questions about the original perpetrator’s appearance at the time of the crime. Further, participants’ recall of misinformation was moderated by their identification decision. Committing to the showup (identifying the suspect as the perpetrator) increased the amount of misinformation participants recalled during later questioning. Results of the study suggest that mere exposure to misinformation increases the likelihood of a witness incorporating the misinformation into later recall. Further, if a witness makes a positive identification, even an erroneous identification, the misinformation effect is greater than if the witness rejects the showup. The present study results suggest that investigators should be mindful of the effects of an earlier showup identification on witness recall.





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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
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