Show-up Identifications: Suggestive Technique or Reliable Method?

Authored by: Jennifer E. Dysart , R. C. L. Lindsay

Handbook of Eyewitness Psychology

Print publication date:  October  2006
Online publication date:  May  2014

Print ISBN: 9780805881073
eBook ISBN: 9781315805535
Adobe ISBN: 9781317777830


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There are various methods of testing a witness’s ability to identify a perpetrator, such as mug-shot searches, lineups, and the show-up identification procedure, where a witness is presented with only one person or photo. The show-up is a commonly used procedure in the United States. Flowe, Ebbesen, Burke, and Chivabunditt (2001) report that show-ups were used for 55% of identifications conducted in 488 sampled cases between 1991 and 1995 in a large U.S. metropolitan area. McQuiston and Malpass (2001) documented a show-up use rate of 30% for identification attempts conducted by police in El Paso County, Texas. Gonzalez, Ellsworth, and Pembroke (1993) enlisted the help of an IIlinois detective to record all identifications (lineups and show-ups) in which he was involved over a designated period of time. Results from this field study indicated that 77% of identification tasks were show-ups. Thus, although the variance in use of show-ups may be large, they are used extensively.

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