Multiple confidence estimates as indices of eyewitness memory

James Sauer, N. Brewer, N. Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Eyewitness identification decisions are vulnerable to various influences on witnesses' decision criteria that contribute to false identifications of innocent suspects and failures to choose perpetrators. An alternative procedure using confidence estimates to assess the degree of match between novel and previously viewed faces was investigated. Classification algorithms were applied to participants' confidence data to determine when a confidence value or pattern of confidence values indicated a positive response. Experiment 1 compared confidence group classification accuracy with a binary decision control group's accuracy on a standard old–new face recognition task and found superior accuracy for the confidence group for target-absent trials but not for target-present trials. Experiment 2 used a face mini-lineup task and found reduced target-present accuracy offset by large gains in target-absent accuracy. Using a standard lineup paradigm, Experiments 3 and 4 also found improved classification accuracy for target-absent lineups and, with a more sophisticated algorithm, for target-present lineups. This demonstrates the accessibility of evidence for recognition memory decisions and points to a more sensitive index of memory quality than is afforded by binary decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528-547
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008


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