Title

The weapon focus effect in target-present and target-absent line-ups: The roles of threat, novelty, and timing

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2014

Abstract

When an eyewitness suffers an impairment of memory for a perpetrator because the criminal used a weapon during the crime, this impairment is called the weapon focus effect. The literature is split on how this arises: Some implicate the narrowing of attentional cues to the weapon because the arousal of the victim increases, whereas others claim that the weapon is a novel object in most everyday contexts, and novel objects demand more attention than contextually appropriate ones. The current study employed a simulated crime paradigm featuring a normal, novel, or threatening object. Timing of the object's presentation was manipulated such that it was visible before, after, or during the time when the culprit's face was visible. Target-present and target-absent line-ups as well as retrospective questions were administered. Both the novel object and the weapon resulted in increased mistaken identifications in target-absent line-ups. Structural equation modeling suggested that object novelty mediated this effect. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Publication Title

Applied Cognitive Psychology

Volume

28

Issue

3

First Page

349

Last Page

359

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1002/acp.3005

ISSN

08884080

E-ISSN

10990720

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