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Observers' Judgments of Identification Accuracy are Affected by Non‐Valid Cues: A Brunswikian Lens Model Analysis


European Journal of Social Psychology

Published online on


This study investigated persuasive effects of behavior cues on observers’ judgments of eyewitness identification decisions. Forty‐eight positive identification statements (50% of which were objectively correct) were evaluated regarding witness likeability, trustworthiness, knowledge and impression of confidence. Moreover, ratings of different speech style characteristics (e.g., hedges, hesitations, gestures, speech rate, answer length) and of different person and event description qualities were collected. It was investigated (1) whether these cues were related to objective identification accuracy and (2) whether observers used them to make their judgments and how they weighted them. Observers heavily relied on the impression of witness confidence and overestimated the discriminative value of several description qualities, although none of these cues was a valid indicator of identification accuracy. Effects of speech style characteristics depended on the presence of additional descriptions. Recommendations for the evaluation of identification decisions in criminal proceedings are discussed.