Testing the Accuracy of Eyewitness Testimony - Science Buddies

My current research investigates situational and personality factors that affect how individuals remember past feelings of emotion, such as how widows and widowers remember past grief, how terminating psychotherapy clients remember pre-therapy distress, and how students remember pre-exam anxiety. I am also interested in factors affecting the accuracy of eyewitness testimony. The papers below represent each of these research interests.

Wise, R. A., & Safer, M. A. (2012). A method for analyzing the accuracy of eyewitness testimony in criminal cases.  22-34.

To address these problems, Professor Wise developed the interview-identification-eyewitness factor (I-I-Eye) method for analyzing eyewitness accuracy (Wise, Fishman, & Safer, 2009). The I-I-Eye method consists of four steps. First, you assess whether the eyewitness interviews were properly conducted by determining if law enforcement (a) obtained the maximum amount of accurate information from the eyewitness; (b) contaminated the eyewitness’s memory with post-event information; or (c) artificially increased the eyewitness’s confidence. Second, you determine if the identification procedures were properly conducted. The I-I-Eye method provides scientific guidelines, for assessing whether the eyewitness interviews and identification procedures were properly conducted. If there was substantial bias in how the eyewitness interviews and identification procedures were conducted, you should assume that the eyewitness testimony is inaccurate unless an exception applies. The exceptions include if the eyewitness conditions at the crime scene were unusually good or if there is substantial corroborating evidence of the accuracy of the eyewitness testimony.

A lay perspective on the accuracy of eyewitness testimony

How to Analyze the Accuracy of Eyewitness Testimony in a Criminal Case As we prepared for work on that case, we wrote an article for on . The voluminous research on that topic was very disturbing. It was even more disturbing to watch as almost every trend documented in the literature occurred along the way in our wrongful convictions case. So, for me, the idea that there is an inexpensive and effective way to teach jurors (and those who come before) how to assess the accuracy of specific eyewitness testimony is a tantalizing one.

Method of questioning and the accuracy of eyewitness testimony.

If the interviews and identification procedures were substantially fair and unbiased or an exception applies (e.g., the eyewitness knew the perpetrator prior to the crime or had prolonged, repeated exposure to the perpetrator, or there is reliable, valid corroborating evidence of the accuracy of the eyewitness testimony) go onto Part III. If an interview or identification procedure was significantly unfair and biased and no exception applies and it likely affected the accuracy of the eyewitness testimony and identification, the eyewitness testimony or any subsequent identification of the defendant by the eyewitness has no probative value and should not be considered in the determination of the defendant’s guilt.

Method of questioning and the accuracy of eyewitness testimony