Change Blindness Can Cause Mistaken Eyewitness Identification

Legal and Criminological Psychology, Vol. 16, pp. 62-74, 2011

UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2011-09

14 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2011

See all articles by Kally J. Nelson

Kally J. Nelson

Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka; University of California, Irvine - Department of Psychology and Social Behavior

Cara Laney

Reed College, Psychology

Nicci Bowman-Fowler

University of California, Irvine

Eric D. Knowles

University of California, Irvine - Department of Psychology and Social Behavior

Deborah Davis

University of Nevada, Reno - Department of Psychology

Elizabeth F. Loftus

University of California, Irvine - Department of Psychological Science; University of California, Irvine School of Law

Date Written: December 30, 2010

Abstract

The current study investigated the effects of change blindness and crime severity on eyewitness identification accuracy. This research, involving 717 subjects, examined change blindness during a simulated criminal act and its effects on subjects’ accuracy for identifying the perpetrator in a photospread. Subjects who viewed videos designed to induce change blindness were more likely to falsely identify the innocent actor relative to those who viewed control videos. Crime severity did not influence detection of change; however, it did have an effect on eyewitness accuracy. Subjects who viewed a more severe crime ($500 theft) made fewer errors in perpetrator identification than those who viewed a less severe crime ($5 theft). This research has theoretical implications for our understanding of change blindness and practical implications for the real-world problem of faulty eyewitness testimony.

Suggested Citation

Nelson, Kally J. and Nelson, Kally J. and Laney, Cara and Bowman-Fowler, Nicci and Knowles, Eric D. and Davis, Deborah and Loftus, Elizabeth F., Change Blindness Can Cause Mistaken Eyewitness Identification (December 30, 2010). Legal and Criminological Psychology, Vol. 16, pp. 62-74, 2011, UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2011-09, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1762901

Kally J. Nelson

University of California, Irvine - Department of Psychology and Social Behavior ( email )

4201 Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-7085
United States

Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka ( email )

P.O. Box 600
Wellington, 6140
New Zealand

Cara Laney

Reed College, Psychology ( email )

3203 SE Woodstock Blvd.
Portland, OR 97202
United States
503/517-7489 (Phone)

Nicci Bowman-Fowler

University of California, Irvine

Campus Drive
Irvine, CA California 62697-3125
United States

Eric D. Knowles

University of California, Irvine - Department of Psychology and Social Behavior ( email )

4201 Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-7085
United States

Deborah Davis

University of Nevada, Reno - Department of Psychology ( email )

United States

Elizabeth F. Loftus (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine - Department of Psychological Science ( email )

4201 Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-7085
United States

University of California, Irvine School of Law

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
316
Abstract Views
2,591
Rank
180,429
PlumX Metrics