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Police identification procedures & eyewitness memory

Eyewitnesses and victims of crimes are often asked to describe what happened in an interview or attempt to identify the culprit from a police identification parade (a lineup). In an interview, the witness is asked to recall the event from memory, and in an identification parade, the witness's job is to identify the culprit if he/she is in the lineup, or to say “not present”, if the real culprit is not. In our research, we use psychological theory to explain, and therefore predict, which methods of testing witness memory result in the most accurate and reliable memory reports. 


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Key questions include:

-How can we use psychological theory and technology to develop new procedures that enhance memory completeness and accuracy?

-How should police select fillers for a lineup?

-How should police officers construct lineups for suspects who have distinctive features?

-What theory explains eyewitness identification decision-making?

-Can a novel interactive lineup procedure improve memory discrimination accuracy? (see here).

-How does alcohol intoxication influence eyewitness memory?

Example publications:

Colloff, M. F., Flowe, H. D., Smith, H. J., Seale-Carlisle, T. M., Meissner, C. A., Rockey, J. C., Pande, B., Kujur, P., Parveen, N., Chandel, P., Singh, M. M., Pradhan, & S., Parganiha, A. (in press). Active exploration of faces in police lineups increases discrimination accuracy. American Psychologist. [Preprint].


Colloff, M. F., Seale-Carlisle, T. M., Karagolu, N., Rockey, J. C., Smith, H. J., Smith, L., Maltby, J., Yaremenko, S., & Flowe, H. D. (2021). Perpetrator pose reinstatement during a lineup test increases discrimination accuracy. Scientific Reports, 11: 13830. [Preprint].

Colloff, M. F., Wilson, B. M., Seale-Carlisle, T. M., & Wixted, J. T. (2021). Optimizing the Selection of Fillers in Police Lineups. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 118, 8, e2017292118 [Preprint].

Colloff, M. F., & Wixted, J. T. (2020). Why are lineups better than showups? A test of the A Test of the Filler Siphoning and Enhanced Discriminability Accounts. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. Supplemental material

Jores, T., Colloff, M. F., Kloft, L., Smailes, H., & Flowe, H.D. (2019). A meta-analysis of the effects of acute alcohol intoxication on witness recall. Applied Cognitive Psychology.

Colloff, M. F., Wade, K. A., Strange, D., & Wixted, J. T. (2018). Filler siphoning theory does not predict the effect of lineup fairness on the ability to discriminate innocent from guilty suspects: Reply to Smith, Wells, Smalarz, & Lampinen (2018). Psychological Science, 29, 1552-1557. Supplemental material

Flowe, H. D., Colloff, M. F., Karoğlu, N., Zelek, K., Ryder, H., Humphries, J. E., & Takarangi, M. K. T. (2017). The effects of alcohol intoxication on accuracy and the confidence-accuracy relationship in photographic simultaneous lineups. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 31, 379–391.

Colloff, M. F., Wade, K. A., & Strange, D. (2016). Unfair lineups make witnesses more likely to confuse innocent and guilty suspects. Psychological Science, 27, 1227–1239.

Colloff, M. F., & Flowe, H. D. (2016). The effects of acute alcohol intoxication on the cognitive mechanisms underlying false facial recognition. Psychopharmacology, 233, 2139–2149.

Flowe, H. D., Klatt, T., & Colloff, M. F. (2014). Selecting fillers on emotional appearance improves lineup identification accuracy. Law and Human Behavior, 38, 509–519.

Example presentations:

This research has been funded by The Laura and John Arnold Foundation; The Economic and Social Research Council; The Experimental Psychological Society; University of Birmingham School of Psychology; University of Birmingham College Internationalisation fund; University of Birmingham Institute for Global Innovation; University of Warwick, Department of Psychology.

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