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The effect of viewing distance on empirical discriminability and the confidence-accuracy relationship for eyewitness identification

NCJ Number
Applied Cognitive Psychology Volume: 34 Issue: 5 Dated: 2022 Pages: 1047-1060
Date Published
14 pages

The distance from which an eyewitness views a perpetrator is a critical factor for eyewitness identification, but has received little research attention, so we presented three mock-crime videos to participants, varying distance to three perpetrators (3, 10, or 20 m).


Across two experiments, increased distance reduced empirical discriminability in the form of a mirror effect, such that correct identifications decreased while false identifications increased. Moreover, high confidence identifications were associated with high accuracy at 3 m (Experiment 1 and 2) and 10 m (Experiment 2), but not at 20 m. We conclude that eyewitnesses may be less likely to identify a perpetrator viewed at a distance, and also more likely to falsely identify an innocent suspect. Furthermore, there may be certain boundary conditions associated with distance and the impact it has on the confidence–accuracy relationship. More research is needed to elucidate the effect of estimator variable manipulations on the confidence–accuracy relationship. (Publisher abstract provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2022