Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scare factor may lead to mistaken identification

Researchers at Goldsmiths, University of London have conducted a study that highlights the fragility of eyewitness identification used within the criminal justice system.

The study shows that stress and fear reduce the likelihood of successful identification, bringing into question a victim’s ability to identify the perpetrator of a crime.

Visitors to the London Dungeon were asked to describe and identify an actor encountered in the ‘Labyrinth of the Lost’ who stepped out to block their path. Whilst they were in the labyrinth, some participants wore a heart rate monitor to measure the level of their anxiety. The researchers found that participants who had experienced a higher state of anxiety were less likely to report correct descriptions of the actor and were less likely to correctly identify him/her in a line-up than participants who had experienced less anxiety.

Most research on the effectiveness of eyewitness identification is likely to overestimate accuracy because the participant witnesses do not feel the fear or stress evoked by crime that would be present in real situations. For ethical reasons, participants in experiments cannot be subjected to the same stress that a victim of crime may experience. This study sought to recreate a similar level of fear and stress, however, by using the scare in the London Dungeon so as to understand what effect such stress may have on memory.

Professor of Psychology, Tim Valentine, who headed the research, emphasised the significance of the results: "We know already that mistaken eyewitness identification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions in the USA. This research takes us a step closer to understanding the problem.”

“The experience in the Labyrinth of the Lost is much less extreme than the stress a victim of crime may experience, but we still observed a catastrophic failure of identification by visitors who found the experience stressful.”

“The research doesn't suggest there is anything wrong with the identification procedures that the police use, but does demonstrate just how difficult it can be for a victim to identify the offender."

Evidence shows that mistaken eyewitness identification is a common cause of miscarriages of justice. 218 people wrongly convicted in the USA have been exonerated by new DNA analysis from crime scene samples. 75% of these cases were the result of mistaken eyewitness identification.

Tim Hirst | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>