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J Appl Psychol. 2001 Dec;86(6):1280-4.

Mug shot exposure prior to lineup identification: interference, transference, and commitment effects.

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


The effects of viewing mug shots on subsequent identification performance are as yet unclear. Two experiments used a live staged-crime paradigm to determine if interpolated eyewitness exposure to mug shots caused interference, unconscious transference, or commitment effects influencing subsequent lineup accuracy. Experiment 1 (N = 104) tested interference effects. Similar correct decision rates were obtained for the mug shot and no mug shot groups from both perpetrator-present and absent lineups. Experiment 2 (N = 132) tested for commitment and transference effects. Results showed that the commitment group made significantly more incorrect identifications than either the control or the transference group, which had similar false-identification rates. Commitment effects present a serious threat to identification accuracy from lineups following mug shot searches.

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