Investigating new ways to improve eyewitness identifications using Receiver Operating Characteristic Analysis (ESRC Funded)

Research Institution / Organisation

Royal Holloway College, University of London

Principal Researcher

Dr. Laura Mickes

Level of Research

Professional / Work-based

Project Start Date

January 2015

Research Context

There is a two-pronged, very real societal problem concerning identifications made by eyewitnesses: innocent suspects are
mistakenly identified and charged with a crime they did not commit, or guilty suspects are not identified and free to commit more crimes. Decreasing the chances that innocent suspects are misidentified, unfortunately also decreases the chances that guilty suspects are identified; and likewise, increasing the chances that guilty suspects are identified also increases the chances that innocent suspects are identified. In other words, an eyewitness's accuracy is not just about choosing the right suspect; it is also about not misidentifying the wrong suspect.

The objectives are as follows:

  1. Increase the accuracy of eyewitness identification by investigating common identification parade procedures and
    features of those procedures that improve eyewitnesses' ability to discriminate innocent from guilty suspects.
  2. Use the new method (that is commonly used in diagnostic medicine) that we imported and adapted for use in
    identification parades to the important questions relevant to eyewitness memory; further develop methodological and statistical tools, and share large datasets with eyewitness memory researchers.
  3. To develop a theory of eyewitness discriminability.
  4. To disseminate the results in international forums of the highest quality.

Research Methodology

​Online behavioural experiments in which participants are tested on variations of the standard UK identity parade.

Interim reports and publications

Wixted, J. T., Mickes, L., & Fisher, R. (in press). Rethinking the Reliability of Eyewitness Memory. Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Wilson, B. M., Seale-Carlisle, T. M., & Mickes, L. (in press). The effects of verbal descriptions on performance in lineups and showups. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Mickes, L., Seale-Carlisle*, T. M., Wetmore, S. A., Gronlund, S. D., Clark, S. E., Carlson, C. A., Goodsell, C. A., Weatherford, D., & Wixted, J. T. (2017). Using lineup instructions to manipulate response bias and its relationship to the confidence-based ROC in eyewitness identification. Applied Cognitive Psychology.

Morgan, D. P., Tamminen, J., Mickes, L. (in Stage 2). The impact of sleep on eyewitness identifications. Royal Society Open Science. Registered Report.

Wixted, J. T., Mickes, L., Wetmore, S. A., Gronlund, S. D., & Neuschatz, J. S. (in press). ROC analysis in theory and practice. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition.

Mickes, L., Clark, S. E., & Gronlund, S. D. (2017). Distilling the Confidence-Accuracy Message: A Comment on Wixted and Wells (2017). Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 18.

Seale-Carlisle, T. M. & Mickes, L. (2016). US lineups outperform UK lineups. Royal Society Open Science. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160300

Mickes, L. (2016). The effects of verbal descriptions on eyewitness memory: Implications for the real-world. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 5, 270-276.

Wixted, J. T., & Mickes, L. (2015). Evaluating Eyewitness Identification Procedures: ROC Analysis and its Misconceptions. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 4, 318-323.

Wixted, J. T., & Mickes, L. (2015). ROC Analysis Measures Objective Discriminability for any Eyewitness Identification Procedure. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 4, 329-334.

Date due for completion

July 2018
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