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Uniforms Affect the Accuracy of Children’s Eyewitness Identifi cation Decisions


Lowenstein, JA and Blank, H and Sauer, J, Uniforms Affect the Accuracy of Children's Eyewitness Identifi cation Decisions, Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling (Online), 7, (1) pp. 59-73. ISSN 1544-4767 (2010) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1002/jip.104


A substantial proportion of line-up identifications involving child eyewitnesses in the UK are conducted by police officers wearing uniform. This study examined the possibility that wearing a uniform constitutes an authority cue that adversely affects a child's ability to make accurate eyewitness identifications. Sixty participants aged 9–10 years old witnessed a staged crime and were later asked to identify a ‘burglar’ from a simultaneous line-up using a 2 (uniform: present vs. absent) × 2 (target: present vs. absent) design. Children in the uniform present conditions made significantly more choices than children in the uniform absent conditions. More importantly, in the presence of a uniform, children made significantly more false identifications in target-absent line-ups. Analysis of supplementary, identification-related variables (identification time and confidence, state anxiety) suggested that (1) the children experienced uncertainty if the target was absent from the line-up, but (2) this uncertainty was not expressed when the line-up administrator wore a uniform, leading to an increase in false identifications. Implications for line-up administration procedures for children are discussed.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:child eyewitness memory, child eyewitness identification
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Applied and developmental psychology
Research Field:Forensic psychology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Sauer, J (Associate Professor Jim Sauer)
ID Code:95950
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:11
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2014-10-13
Last Modified:2014-11-05

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