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Computerized Mug Books: When Does Adding Multimedia Help?

NCJ Number
Date Published
64 pages
This report presents the methods and findings of five experiments that focused on how to improve witness performance in suspect identification in lineups and photospreads in computerized mug books by giving witnesses control over the selection of various types of dynamic cues.

Previous research concluded that adding dynamic cues such as voice or gait can aid witness performance. The first experiment in the present research tested whether allowing witnesses to separate the desired dynamic cues from the undesired cues would improve their performance over a procedure in which the cues were available only in combination. The second experiment tested the impact of different types of dynamic cues. The studies assigned introductory psychology students into groups that viewed mug books with either static pictures, combined dynamic cues, or separable dynamic cues. The choices of cues included voice, rotation, body, and none. Participants viewed a 5-minute videotape that depicted a computer crime with a perpetrator and an innocent bystander. Results revealed that witnesses preferred voice cues, that full body was a distant second choice, and that rotation was the last choice. However, contrary to past research with computerized mug books, the addition of dynamic cues did not improve witness performance. The third experiment tested the possibility of generalizing the usefulness of dynamic mug books to larger sets of mug shots. Further experiments tested the usefulness of computerized dynamic mug books in conjunction with mug books pruned by a computer facial-recognition program, tested the relationship between similarity determinations made by computers and those made by humans, and studied a facial recognition algorithm. Findings established the type of dynamic information that dynamic mug books should include and indicated the need for additional research before more police agencies adopt these mug book programs. Tables and 11 references

Date Published: January 1, 1999