Actual vs. perceived eyewitness accuracy and confidence and the featural justification effect.

This article documents a contradiction between objective eyewitness accuracy and perceived eyewitness accuracy. Objectively, eyewitness identification accuracy (and the confidence-accuracy relationship) is comparably strong when a lineup identification is accompanied by a justification that refers to either an observable feature about the suspect (“I remember his eyes”), an unobservable feature (“He looks like a friend of mine”) or just a statement of recognition (“I recognize him”). There is, however, a weaker relationship between confidence and accuracy and an increase in high confidence errors for identifications that are accompanied by references to familiarity than by references to any other type of justification. With respect to perceived accuracy, we document a robust cognitive bias—the featural justification effect—that causes eyewitnesses to be regarded by others as less accurate and less confident when they justify their identification by referring to an observable feature as compared to when they give any other kind of justification, except for a reference to familiarity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)