Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D. in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Matthew Reysen

Second Advisor

Kimberly Kaiser

Third Advisor

Elicia Lair

Abstract

The current study investigated the influence of recall instructions on the verbal overshadowing effect (VOE). Participants watched a video of a burglar breaking and entering, were asked to recall information about the burglar, and attempted to identify the burglar from a photo lineup. Recall instructions were varied between participants. In Experiment 1, participants in a ‘general recall’ instruction condition were instructed to provide a description of the burglar’s physical appearance. Participants in a ‘face recall’ instruction condition were asked to provide a description of the burglar’s facial features. A control group of participants, the ‘no recall’ instruction condition, were not asked to provide a description. Participants in the ‘face recall’ instruction condition demonstrated verbal overshadowing, while participants who were given ‘general recall’ instructions did not. Experiment 2 investigated the influence of recall instruction type (general, face) and recall instruction length (short, long) on the VOE. In Experiment 2, participants in a ‘general short recall’ instruction condition were given brief instructions to describe the perpetrator’s physical appearance; in the ‘general long recall’ instruction condition, participants were given longer general recall instructions. Participants in the ‘face short recall’ instruction condition were given brief instructions to describe the perpetrator’s face; participants in the ‘face long recall’ instruction condition were given longer face recall instructions. Participants in a control ‘no recall’ instruction condition were not given recall instructions. Participants in both the ‘face recall’ and ‘general recall’ instruction conditions demonstrated verbal overshadowing. Recall instruction length did not influence identification accuracy. Across both experiments, the relationship of recall instructions to description accuracy and lineup identification response time was also assessed. Additionally, the relationships between description accuracy and identification accuracy as well as identification response time and identification accuracy were examined. While recall instructions appeared to influence measures of both identification accuracy and description accuracy, a meaningful relationship between description accuracy and identification accuracy was not found in the present study. Regarding lineup identification response times, the relationship between these times and identification accuracy is not clear. Overall, results have theoretical implications regarding the VOE and applied implications for how law enforcement officers administer lineups.

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