Stereotypes and the Familiar-Stranger: The Role of Previous Contact and Gender Stereotypes on Eyewitness Recall and Recognition Accuracy

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Thompson, Lauren Elizabeth




The present study examined the influence of prior familiarity with a perpetrator and gender stereotypes on eyewitness recall and identification accuracy. Participants (N = 257) watched a crime video where the perpetrator was either someone they had never met before (unfamiliar/stranger condition), or was someone with whom they had a 1 minute exposure to prior to the crime (familiar condition). In the familiar conditions the 1 minute exposure included the target talking about their occupation; this occupation was either consistent or inconsistent with gender role stereotypes. There were no significant differences in recall or identification accuracy between the familiar or stereotypes conditions. However, when participants were asked to rate the degree to which they viewed the target as stereotype consistent versus inconsistent, higher stereotype consistency ratings were associated with reporting more total descriptors and higher proportions of correct descriptors. Conversely, lower stereotype consistency ratings predicted more correct identification decisions.


Psychology - Experimental
Psychology - Cognitive




Carleton University

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