Accuracy of eyewitness identification of Black Americans as a function of Social Dominance Orientation and cross race contact
This study was designed to examine the effect of Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) on eyewitness identification, specifically cross race identifications. Research shows that cross race identifications have a higher likelihood of being incorrect than same race identifications (Anthony, Copper, & Mullen, 1992; Bothwell, Brigham, & Malpass, 1989; Teitelbaum & Geiselman, 1997). Past research (Chance, Goldstein, & McBride, 1975; Goldstein & McBride, 1975; Malpass, Lavigueur, and Weldon, 1973) indicates that the amount of contact with members of other races may influence the ability to accurately identify other race individuals in lineups. SDO has received limited attention in the criminal justice literature but may moderate the ability to make cross race identifications. SDO is an individual difference variable that pertains to one's preference for group based social hierarchies. Individuals high on SDO hold different beliefs regarding the criminal justice system (Perkins & Bourgeois, 2006). A goal of the present study was to extend the literature on SDO and the criminal justice system to include eyewitness identifications.
Participants first completed measures of SDO and amount of cross race contact. They then viewed two video clips of college age males; one video featured a Caucasian individual and the other a Black individual. Upon returning two days later, participants made lineup identifications, Remember, Know, Guess judgments, and reported on their willingness to testify in court on their identifications. It was hypothesized that individuals high on SDO will report less contact with other race individuals, which in turn will lead to lower accuracy rates for cross race identifications.
Results showed that participants were more accurate when making the cross-race identification compared to the same-race identification. Furthermore, SDO did not predict cross-race and same-race identification accuracy. The lack of a cross race effect precluded testing the hypothesized relationship between SDO, cross-race contact, and identification accuracy. The current study falls into the class of studies that did not find the cross race effect. One possible reason why this study may have failed to find the cross-race effect is the social context of the stimuli.
0451: Social psychology
0631: Ethnic studies