“Only your first yes will count”: The impact of pre-lineup instructions on sequential lineup decisions
Fitzgerald, Ryan J.
Mansour, Jamal K.
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Horry, R., Fitzgerald, R. J. & Mansour, J. K. (2020) “Only your first yes will count”: The impact of pre-lineup instructions on sequential lineup decisions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 27(1), pp. 170-186.
When administering sequential lineups, researchers often inform their participants that only their first yes response will count. This instruction differs from the original sequential lineup protocol and from how sequential lineups are conducted in practice. Participants (N = 896) viewed a videotaped mock crime and viewed a simultaneous lineup, a sequential lineup with a first-yes-counts instruction, or a sequential control lineup (with no first-yes-counts instruction); the lineup was either target-present or target-absent. Participants in the first-yes-counts condition were less likely to identify the suspect and more likely to reject the lineup than participants in the simultaneous and sequential control conditions, suggesting a conservative criterion shift. The diagnostic value of suspect identifications, as measured by partial Area Under the Curve, was lower in the first-yes-counts lineup than in the simultaneous lineup. Results were qualitatively similar for other metrics of diagnosticity, though the differences were not statistically significant. Differences between the simultaneous and sequential control lineups were negligible on all outcomes. The first-yes-counts instruction undermines sequential lineup performance and produces an artefactual simultaneous lineup advantage. Researchers should adhere to sequential lineup protocols that maximize diagnosticity and that would feasibly be implemented in practice, allowing them to draw more generalizable conclusions from their data.