Testing the reflection assumption: an examination of the external validity of published studies on lineup identification accuracy.

The purpose of this project was to draw attention to the problem of eyewitness ecology, a term that we use to refer to the relationship between the eyewitness and the criminal environment, which includes characteristics of perpetrators, witnessing conditions and the identification test. Our goal was to compare the range of eyewitness ecologies found in real world cases with those found in laboratory studies of eyewitness identification. Toward this end, we coded the characteristics of the published literature on criminal identification in the laboratory (N = 290). The results were compared to the characteristics of a stratified random sample of felony cases (N = 721) obtained from a large metropolitan district in the United States. The results provide a systematic overview of the methods and procedures that have been used to study eyewitness identification in the laboratory, and suggest areas in which further research is needed to better reflect the range of eyewitness ecologies that are found in actual criminal cases