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When it comes to faces bad information may not be so bad: The effects of post-event information on line-up identification

Publication Date
  • Eyewitness Identification
  • Misinformation
  • Line-Ups
  • Facial Identification
  • Misleading Information
  • Psychology And Law


This study sought to replicate and extend what little is known about the effect of misleading post-event information (aka the misinformation effect) with regards to facial identification. One-hundred eleven undergraduate students viewed a video of a staged crime and were then given newspaper articles containing misleading, non-misleading, or no information about the appearance of the perpetrator. Participants were then tested with either a target-absent line-up, where all individuals matched the misleading description of the perpetrator, or a target-present line-up, where all individuals matched the non-misleading description. Two main findings were obtained. First, misinformation did not impair line-up performance. However, participants receiving any (even misleading) facial information outperformed those participants receiving no information. These results suggest that in some cases, verbal misinformation may facilitate memory. Furthermore, they suggest that while perceptual misinformation may not easily impair visual memory, contextual information can.

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