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Factors affecting EWT Age of Witness
Age differences in accuracy
Parker and Carranza (1989) compared the ability of primary school children and
college students to correctly identify a target individual following a slide sequence of a
In a photo identification task, child witnesses had a higher rate of choosing
`somebody' than adult witnesses, although they were more likely to make errors of
identification than the college students.
Yarmey (1993) stopped 651 adults in public places and asked them to recall the
physical characteristics of a young woman they had spoken to for 15 seconds just 2
Although young (1829) and middleaged (3044) adults were more confident in their
recall than the older (4565) adults, there were no significant differences in the
accuracy of recall that could be attributed to the age group of the witness.
Mernon et al (2003) studied the accuracy of young (1633) and older (6082)
When the delay between an incident and an identification was short (35 mins), there
was no difference in the accuracy of the two age groups.
However, when the identification task was delayed by one week, the older witnesses
were significantly less accurate.
The ownage bias
Anastasi and Rhodes (2006) used individuals from 3 age groups (1825 3545 and
5578) who were shown 24 photographs (representing the 3 different age groups),
which they had to rate for attractiveness.
After a short `filler' activity, they were then presented with 48 photographs, 24 of which
had been seen previously and 24 that acted as `distracters'.
Corrected recognition rates (correct identification minus incorrect) showed that the
young and middleaged participants were significantly more accurate than the older
participants, but the most interesting finding was that all age groups were more
accurate in identifying photographs from their own age group.
Explaining the ownage bias
The differential experience hypothesis (Brigham and Malpass, 1985) would suggest
that the more contact we have with members of a particular age group or ethnic
group, the better our memory would be for such individuals.
Consequently, the less experience we have with a particular age group, the greater
the ownage bias.