Media induced stereotyped facial recall and its effect on a witness’s selection of a suspect in an identity parade

Tracey, Justin (2009) Media induced stereotyped facial recall and its effect on a witness’s selection of a suspect in an identity parade. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    The aim of this dissertation is to examine whether media reporting causes witnesses to form stereotypical memories for faces and whether this will subsequently effect their selection of a suspect at an identity parade. Studies (Shepherd, Ellis, Mc Murran and Davies, 1978; Goldstein, Chance and Gilbert, 1984) have shown that single words on their own can activate stereotypes and distort the complete facial memory of a person but no study has yet examined whether a body of words, in the form of a suggestive news article, would have similar effects on a witnesses recall of a suspect at an identity parade. To investigate this, 90 participants in an experiment attended a mock identity parade. Half of the participants were exposed to a suggestive media article, half were not. Results showed those who read a suggestive media report were twice as likely to select a stereotypical face. The results also suggested that media reports implicitly activate stored stereotypes and attune the attentional system towards stereotypically consistent cues present in suspects' facial features. Results show the extent of stereotypical cues present in a suspect's face mediates the level of stereotypical processing. The evaluation of these stereotypical cues appears to be strongly affected by the suspect's unattractiveness, which is perceived to be a sign of underlying criminality. Results also suggest that witnesses over 50 years of age may have a neurological dysfunction that causes semantic intra-category irregularities and an over reliance on heuristic processing and also inefficient processing of deceptive (stereotypical) sources which result in inflated levels of confidence. Results also showed that suggestive older participants will try to conceal their stereotypical selections by using non-stereotyped (factual) reasons. Consequently this paper recommends that the elderly are treated as 'vulnerable witnesses' under the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 and that witnesses who see crimes that may be highly publicized should be fast-tracked to the identification procedure to avoid media contamination. This dissertation also emphasises that future research should try to identify which perceptual stimuli buried within facial cues infers criminality and other related stereotypes.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 12:48
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:15

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