Enhancing older witnesses' identification performance: context reinstatement is not the answer

R. Rose, Ray Bull, Aldert Vrij

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The population in many counties around the world is aging and, as such, older adults are increasingly likely to be witnesses to crime. In the current study older and younger participants viewed a simulated crime event and, prior to viewing two lineups, they were assigned to either a mental context reinstatement condition, a photographic context reinstatement condition, or a control condition. As expected, older adults demonstrated significantly poorer performance on both lineups compared to younger adults. However, neither context reinstatement condition was beneficial for older or younger participants. It is argued that the detrimental effect of age on lineup performance is a serious one which police need to be aware of and researchers need to conduct more work on possible interventions to aid older witness performance. One such possible intervention may come from enhancing instructions given prior to the lineups on the basis that older adults in the current study were significantly less likely to report remembering such instructions compared to younger participants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-184
Number of pages12
JournalCanadian Journal of Police and Security Services
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2003


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