The conceptual frameworks provided by both the lineups-as-experiments analogy and Signal Detection Theory have proven important to furthering understanding of performance on eyewitness identification-procedures. The lineups-as-experiments analogy proposes that when investigators carry out a lineup procedure, they are acting as experimenters, and should therefore follow the same tried-and-true procedures that experimenters follow when executing an experiment. Signal Detection Theory offers a framework for distinguishing between factors that improve the trade-off between culprit and innocent-suspect identifications (discriminability) and factors that impact the frequency of suspect identifications (conservativeness). The present work offers an integration of these two conceptual frameworks. We argue that an eyewitness lineup procedure is characterized by two simultaneous Signal Detection tasks. On one hand, the witness is tasked with determining whether the culprit is present in the lineup and whom that person is. On the other hand, the investigator knows which lineup member is the suspect and which lineup members are known-innocent fillers and is therefore tasked only with determining whether the suspect is the culprit. The investigator uses the witness' identification decision and associated level of confidence to make a decision about whether the suspect is the culprit. We leverage this realization to demonstrate a method for creating full Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curves for eyewitness lineup procedures and demonstrate that the conclusions drawn from comparing full lineup ROC curves differ from those drawn from comparing suspect-only partial ROC curves.
Smith, Andrew M.; Yang, Yueran; and Wells, Gary L., "Distinguishing Between Investigator Discriminability and Eyewitness Discriminability: A Method for Creating Full Receiver Operating Characteristic Curves of Lineup Identification Performance" (2019). Psychology Publications. 96.
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