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Refining the blank lineup procedure: How should we instruct eyewitnesses?Presenting a blank lineup—containing only fillers—to witnesses prior to showing a real lineup might be useful for screening out those who pick from the blank lineup as unreliable witnesses. We show that the effectiveness of this procedure varies depending on instructions given to witnesses. Participants (N = 462) viewed a simulated crime and attempted to identify the perpetrator from a lineup approximately one week later. Rejecting a blank lineup was associated with greater identification accuracy and greater diagnosticity of suspect identifications, but only when witnesses were instructed prior to the blank lineup that they would view a series of lineups; the procedure was ineffective for screening when witnesses were advised they would view two lineups or received no instruction. These results highlight the importance of instructions used in the blank lineup procedure, and the need for better understanding of how to interpret choosing patterns in this paradigm. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
The variable influence of confession inconsistencies: How factual errors (but not contradictions) reduce belief in suspect guiltWrongful conviction statistics suggest that jurors pay little heed to the quality of confession evidence when making verdict decisions. However, recent research indicates that confession inconsistencies may sometimes reduce perception of suspect guilt. Drawing on theoretical frameworks of attribution theory, correspondence bias, and the story model of juror decision-making, we investigated how judgments about likely guilt are affected by different types of inconsistencies: self-contradictions (Experiment 1) and factual errors (Experiment 2). Crucially, judgments of likely guilt of the suspect were reduced by factual errors in confession evidence, but not by contradictions. Mediation analyses suggest that this effect of factual errors on judgments of guilt is underpinned by the extent to which mock-jurors generated a plausible, alternative explanation for why the suspect confessed. These results indicate that not all confession inconsistencies are treated equally; factual errors might cause suspicion about the veracity of the confession, but contradictions do not.