Guilty or innocent? About the role of choice blindness and own-race bias in eyewitness identifications


  • Iris van Sambeek
  • Inge Verheggen



Most of us would say that we would notice if the ice-cream seller gave us strawberry ice-cream, when we actually asked for chocolate. However, several studies indicate that people do not always notice changes in the outcome of their decisions. This phenomenon is called choice blindness and occurs in a wide variety of domains. Apparently, it is even possible that eyewitnesses do not notice that the person they identified from a lineup earlier is not identical with a person presented to them later. If this already occurs in own-race cases, what should we expect if an eyewitness has to identify a person from another race? Due to the own-race bias, people have more difficulty in recognizing faces from another race than from their own race. Do people also have more difficulty in noticing a switch in the outcome of their identification decision when they have to identify other-race faces compared to own-race faces? The present article, we examine the role of choice blindness and the own-race bias in the performance of eyewitnesses.


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