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Do Sober Eyewitnesses Outperform Alcohol Intoxicated Eyewitnesses in a Lineup?

Journal article
Authors Angelica Hagsand
Emma Roos Af Hjelmsäter
Pär-Anders Granhag
Claudia Fahlke
Anna Söderpalm Gordh
Published in European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context
Volume 5
Issue 1
Pages 23-47
ISSN 1889-1861
Publication year 2013
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Department of Psychology
Pages 23-47
Language en
Keywords alcohol intoxicated, eyewitness memory, person identification, lineup, alcohol myopia theory, identification accuracy, memory, gender, myopia, witnesses, attention, moderate, realism, faces, performance
Subject categories Psychology


Although alcohol intoxicated eyewitnesses are common, there are only a few studies in the area. The aim of the current study is to investigate how different doses of alcohol affect eyewitness lineup identification performance. The participants (N = 123) were randomly assigned to a 3 [Beverage: control (0.0 g/kg ethanol) vs. lower (0.4 g/kg ethanol) vs. higher alcohol dose (0.7 g(kg ethanol)] X 2 (Lineup: target-present vs. target-absent) between-subject design. Participants consumed two glasses of beverage at an even pace for 15 minutes. Five minutes after consumption the participants witnessed a film depicting a staged kidnapping. Seven days later, the participants returned to the laboratory and were asked to identify the culprit in a simultaneous lineup. The result showed that overall, the participants performed better than chance; however, their lineup performance was poor. There were no significant effects of alcohol intoxication with respect to performance, neither in target-present nor target-absent lineups. The study's results suggest that eyewitnesses who have consumed a lower (0.4 g/kg ethanol) or a higher (0.7 g/kg ethanol) dose of alcohol perform at the same level as sober eyewitnesses in a lineup. The results are discussed in relation to the alcohol myopia theory and suggestions for future research are made.

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