The effect of facial composite construction on eyewitness identification accuracy in an ecologically valid paradigm.

Graham E. Pike, Nicola A. Brace, Jim Turner, A. Vredeveldt

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Previous research has produced equivocal results with regard to whether facial composite creation affects subsequent eyewitness identification accuracy, but the most widely publicized view is that creating a composite impairs the ability to later recognize the perpetrator from a line-up. In our first experiment, we examined this effect using several ecologically valid elements including a live staged crime, trained police officers, and a long delay between construction and identification, albeit with only a short delay between crime and composite construction. Composite construction did not significantly affect line-up identification accuracy. Experiment 2 replicated this result using a laboratory-based design and sequential line-up task, eliminating the possibly confounding effect of differential levels of motivation and relative judgments. Taken together, the experiments suggest composite creation may not negatively impact subsequent line-up accuracy, regardless of whether an ecologically valid method or more standard laboratory testing was used.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-336
Number of pages18
JournalCriminal Justice and Behavior
Issue number2
Early online date8 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


auThors’ noTe: The authors would especially like to thank West Yorkshire Police, the Thames Valley Police Force, the Isle of Man Police Force, and the National Training Centre for Scientific Support to Crime Investigation, whose cooperation made this research possible. The research reported here was supported by the U.K. Home Office through the Innovations Fund Scheme. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Graham E. Pike, School of Psychology, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK; e-mail: [email protected].

FundersFunder number
Isle of Man Police Force
Thames Valley Police Force
U.K. Home Office
West Yorkshire Police


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