Based on its importance in the criminal justice system, it is critical to understand how jurors interpret eyewitness identification evidence in the form of photo arrays and witness statements, so we addressed several unresolved questions, including: How do potential jurors interpret eyewitness statements regarding confidence and decision speed? Are suspect identifications from fair lineups trusted more than those from biased lineups or showups? What if the eyewitness chooses a filler or rejects the lineup?
Three experiments with large demographically-diverse U.S. samples provided three novel results. First, identifications with fast statements (e.g. ‘I identified him instantly.’) were trusted more than identifications with slow statements (e.g. ‘I recognized him after a few minutes.’) unless they were supported with low confidence, when speed statement had no effect. Second, biased lineups were often not perceived as biased, but when they were, suspect identifications were not trusted. Third, neither confidence nor speed statements had any impact on judgments of suspect guilt when participants were informed that a filler was chosen or the lineup/showup was rejected. We recommend that jurors be educated regarding how to appropriately evaluate eyewitness evidence. (Publisher abstract provided)