Forensic psychology
Forensic psychology

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Forensic psychology

Week 6: Visual identification

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CATRIONA HARVARD
Welcome to week 6.
This week we're looking at an area that particularly interests me - identification procedures.
Identifying the perpetrator of a crime is perhaps the most important type of evidence that an eyewitness can provide. Both our detectives have their own ideas of how the crime took place and who the perpetrators might be. They are now ready to conduct identification procedures to test their theories.
Although selecting a person from a line-up may seem straight forward, psychological research has revealed it is a complex process and it can easily go wrong.
So we'll look at the psychology of eyewitness identification and see how identifying a suspect can involve a great deal more than simply selecting a person you think you saw commit the crime. We will explore phenomena, such as, unconscious transference and verbal overshadowing and you will see that the way the police construct and conduct an identity parade, can have a dramatic influence on the outcome.
Now that we know a bit more about eyewitness identification, you will get another opportunity to have a go at identifying the perpetrator from a staged crime, using different types of identification procedures.
Using your knowledge of eyewitness psychology, you will then evaluate the identification procedures used by DI Bullet and DS Sund to see who has arrested the guilty suspect and whether either investigation has got it right.
Good luck.
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Once the police have a suspect, it is common practice to see if the witnesses identify that person as being the perpetrator they saw commit the crime.

Although this may sound quite straightforward, you saw in Week 1 that even the question asked of the witness can lead them to identifying someone who is innocent. What other factors do the police need to take into account, and will the identification procedures conducted by DI Bullet and DS Sund incorporate these factors?

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