Retrieval experience as an accurate indicator of person identification in line-ups

Antonio Manzanero, Beatriz Lopez, M. Contreras

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Responses in eyewitness identification of a person in a line-up may be based on two types of recovery experiences, remember and know experiences. Remember responses involve eyewitness identification of the target person as an episodic memory task, because it implies retrieving information about the target person in the place and at the time of the event. Know responses, in contrast, engage recognition based on familiarity or perceptual facilitation, that is, as a semantic memory task. To explore the relation between retrieval experiences and recognition accuracy, 86 participants took part in two person recognition conditions, one with an interpolated target absent line-up and the other only with the target present line-up. Accuracy of recognition and retrieval experience were measured. The results show that, having previously participated in a target-absent line-up increased omissions, while the number of hits decreased. Across several conditions, participants’ know responses were associated to false recognition, whilst remember responses were associated to accuracy recognition. It seems therefore that asking eyewitnesses to inform about the kind of retrieval experience in which they base their recognition responses may serve as a good indicator of accuracy recognition. Future studies need to investigate whether this is also the case in natural settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-140
Number of pages12
JournalThe European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • remember-know experience
  • eyewitness
  • identification
  • testimony
  • line-ups
  • face recognition


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