Popout Effect in Eyewitness Identification

The “popout” effect refers to the subjective experience of witnesses who report virtually immediate or apparently automatic recognition of the perpetrator of a crime from a photo array or lineup. Researchers have detected this experience among witnesses by asking them to endorse one of several statements about the decision strategy they used when making their decision about a simultaneous lineup. In some (though not all) studies, witnesses who were accurate more frequently endorsed statements such as “I just recognized him, I cannot say why” and “His face just popped out at me” (automatic processing) than did inaccurate witnesses. The latter more often endorsed items such as “I compared the faces with one other to narrow the choices” and “I first eliminated the ones that were ...

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