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J Appl Psychol. 1999 Jun;84(3):315-21.

Alternatives to the sequential lineup: the importance of controlling the pictures.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


Because sequential lineups reduce false-positive choices, their use has been recommended (R. C. L. Lindsay, 1999; R. C. L. Lindsay & G. L. Wells, 1985). Blind testing is included in the recommended procedures. Police, concerned about blind testing, devised alternative procedures, including self-administered sequential lineups, to reduce use of relative judgments (G. L. Wells, 1984) while permitting the investigating officer to conduct the procedure. Identification data from undergraduates exposed to a staged crime (N = 165) demonstrated that 4 alternative identification procedures tested were less effective than the original sequential lineup. Allowing witnesses to control the photographs resulted in higher rates of false-positive identification. Self-reports of using relative judgments were shown to be postdictive of decision accuracy.

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