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Eyewitness Identification Is a Visual Search Task
Annual Review of Vision Science  (IF6.422),  Pub Date : 2021-09-15, DOI: 10.1146/annurev-vision-100119-124537
John T. Wixted, Edward Vul, Laura Mickes, Brent M. Wilson

The simultaneous six-pack photo lineup is a standard eyewitness identification procedure, consisting of one police suspect plus five physically similar fillers. The photo lineup is either a target-present array (the suspect is guilty) or a target-absent array (the suspect is innocent). The eyewitness is asked to search the six photos in the array with respect to a target template stored in memory (namely, the memory of the perpetrator's face). If the witness determines that the perpetrator is in fact in the lineup (detection), then the next step is to specify the position of the perpetrator's face in the lineup (localization). The witness may also determine that the perpetrator is not present and reject the lineup. In other words, a police lineup is a detection-plus-localization visual search task. Signal detection concepts that have long guided thinking about visual search have recently had a significant impact on our understanding of police lineups.