When Snitches Corroborate: Effects of Post-identification Feedback from a Potentially Compromised Source

Blake Erikson, James M. Lampinen, Alex Wooten, Stacy Wetmore, Jeffrey S. Neuschatz

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Feedback provided to eyewitnesses can influence memory as to how confident their previous line-up selections were. Witnesses given confirming feedback remember being more confident than witnesses who are told their selection was incorrect regardless of their accuracy. This can have a powerful impact on judges and juries. In this article, we examine the effect of feedback from a ‘snitch’ (a jailhouse informant). This manipulation often occurs in real cases, despite that fact that snitches could have something to gain from providing information to police. Our participants witnessed a staged crime and then identified the perpetrator from a target-absent line-up. Two days later, participants were provided with feedback and were probed for confidence. Results show that confirming feedback from a snitch has the same effect as a confession made by the actual suspect, and disconfirming feedback reduces confidence. Implications and relation to the extant literature on eyewitness confidence are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-160
Number of pages13
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology, & Law
Issue number1
Early online date22 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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