Research on Eyewitness identification becomes less accurate when the witness is of a different race or ethnicity than the suspect.

Eyewitness identification is an important tool for law enforcement, but its accuracy has been called into question when the eyewitness and suspect are of different races or ethnicities. This phenomenon, known as cross-race effect (CRE), suggests that remembering a face of a different race is more difficult than one’s own race. Studies show that memory accuracy decreases with CRE, meaning there is potential for false identifications of innocent people. The consequences can range from wrongful conviction to mistrust in the criminal justice system.

Research on Eyewitness identification becomes less accurate when the witness is of a different race or ethnicity than the suspect.

Cross-race effects have been observed since the early 1900s and remain significant today. A study conducted in 1912 found that out of 25 Caucasian witnesses asked to identify African American suspects, only four made correct identifications while 21 falsely identified someone else with certainty. In recent years, similar patterns have emerged regarding other minority groups such as Asians and Latinos which suggest this issue wasn’t limited to just African Americans back then either. Researchers believe these discrepancies arise from a few sources including lack of experience with people outside the witness’ own racial group, cognitive processing differences between members of different races/ethnicities as well as context bias within photos used during lineups/photo arrays where a suspect is placed among individuals who look nothing like them thus making it easier to pick them out due to contrastive features rather than true recognition ability on part of witness .

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