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Receiver operating characteristic analysis of age-related changes in lineup performance

journal contribution
posted on 28.01.2016 by Joyce E. Humphries, Heather Flowe
In the basic face memory literature, support has been found for the late maturation hypothesis, which holds that face recognition ability is not fully developed until at least adolescence. Support for the late maturation hypothesis in the criminal lineup identification literature, however, has been equivocal because of the analytic approach that has been used to examine age-related changes in identification performance. Recently, receiver operator characteristic (ROC) analysis was applied for the first time in the adult eyewitness memory literature to examine whether memory sensitivity differs across different types of lineup tests. ROC analysis allows for the separation of memory sensitivity from response bias in the analysis of recognition data. Here, we have made the first ROC-based comparison of adults’ and children’s (5- and 6-year-olds and 9- and 10-year-olds) memory performance on lineups by reanalyzing data from Humphries, Holliday, and Flowe (2012). In line with the late maturation hypothesis, memory sensitivity was significantly greater for adults compared with young children. Memory sensitivity for older children was similar to that for adults. The results indicate that the late maturation hypothesis can be generalized to account for age-related performance differences on an eyewitness memory task. The implications for developmental eyewitness memory research are discussed.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology




189 - 204


HUMPHRIES, J.E. and FLOWE, H.D., 2015. Receiver operating characteristic analysis of age-related changes in lineup performance. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 132, pp. 189-204.


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