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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01962

Advances in facial composite technology, utilizing holistic construction, do not lead to an increase in eyewitness misidentifications compared to older feature-based systems.

 Graham Pike1*, Nicola Brace1, Jim Turner1, Hayley Ness1 and  Annelies Vredeveldt2
  • 1The Open University, United Kingdom
  • 2Department of Criminal Law and Criminology, Faculty of Law, VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands

An eyewitness can contribute to a police investigation both by creating a composite image of the face of the perpetrator and by attempting to identify them during an identification procedure. This raises the potential issue that creating a composite of a perpetrator might then interfere with the subsequent identification of that perpetrator. Previous research exploring this issue has tended to use older feature-based composite systems, but the introduction of new holistic composite systems is an important development as they were designed to be a better match for human cognition and are likely to interact with memory in a different way. This issue was explored in the current experiment. Participants were randomly assigned to either a feature-based composite construction condition (using E-FIT), a holistic-based composite construction condition (using EFIT-V) or a control condition. An ecologically valid delay between seeing a staged crime, creating the composite and completing the identification task was employed to better match conditions in real investigations. The results showed that neither type of composite construction had an effect on participants’ accuracy on a subsequent identification task. This suggests that facial composite systems, including holistic systems, may not negatively impact subsequent eyewitness identification evidence.

Keywords: Facial composite, eyewitness identification, Eyewitness Memory, post-event information, Unconscious transference

Received: 21 May 2019; Accepted: 09 Aug 2019.

Edited by:

Renate Volbert, Psychologische Hochschule Berlin, Germany

Reviewed by:

Anna Sagana, Maastricht University, Netherlands
Josh P. Davis, University of Greenwich, United Kingdom  

Copyright: © 2019 Pike, Brace, Turner, Ness and Vredeveldt. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Graham Pike, The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom, graham.pike@open.ac.uk