Improving Children's Performance on Photographic Lineups: Do the Physical Properties of a 'Wildcard' Influence Its Success?
Children appear to have particular difficulty rejecting a photographic lineup when the target is absent. These types of errors can lead to wrongful convictions. Zajac and Karageorge (2009) and Karageorge and Zajac (2011) recently showed that children’s target-absent lineup performance could be improved by introducing a wildcard – a silhouetted head and shoulders figure with a large blue question mark superimposed – to which the child could point instead of verbally rejecting the lineup. The aim of the present study was to examine whether the physical properties of the wildcard influence its success. To achieve this, we presented 8- to 11- year old children with target-present and -absent lineups. On each lineup, children were either presented with a wildcard with a plausible silhouette, a wildcard with an implausible silhouette, a not there card, or no visual rejection option (control). Relative to control trials, accuracy on the target-absent lineups was increased by the plausible wildcard, decreased by the implausible wildcard, and not significantly influenced by the not there card. None of the rejection options influenced target-present lineup performance. These findings suggest that the success of the wildcard is due to the similarity of the silhouette to the target, indicating that children’s rejection decisions could be due to a combination of their reliance on external facial features when making facial recognition decisions, and difficulty grasping the representational nature of the wildcard. We discuss the implications of these findings for implementing the wildcard into police procedure.
Advisor: Zajac, Rachel
Degree Name: Master of Science
Degree Discipline: Psychology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: eyewitness; identification; children; lineups; wildcard; plausible; implausible
Research Type: Thesis