An Examination of Mock Jurors’ Judgments in Familiar Identification Cases

  • Jonathan P. Vallano
  • Jennifer Pettalia
  • Emily Pica
  • Joanna Pozzulo


The present studies examined jurors’ perceptions of “familiar” identifications—that is, identifications where an eyewitness espouses prior exposure to the perpetrator. In two studies, undergraduate mock jurors (total N = 760) read a criminal case vignette that manipulated whether the eyewitness claimed to have prior exposure to the perpetrator (and how much). Study 1 additionally manipulated the eyewitness’ subsequent lineup identification confidence level, finding that confidence (but not familiarity) increased participants’ beliefs in guilt and identification accuracy. Study 2 employed a stronger familiarity manipulation while additionally manipulating how long before the crime the prior exposure occurred and the viewing conditions during the crime. Results indicated that this stronger familiar identification was perceived as more accurate and indicative of guilt than the stranger identification, but only in cases of minimal prior exposure. And while viewing conditions independently affected legal judgments, it rarely moderated these familiarity effects. Theoretical and applied implications are discussed.


Eyewitness identification Familiarity Juror decision-making Expert testimony 



I would like to thank Kristen Slapinski, Abigail Briggs, and Kelly Lawson for their assistance with this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Society for Police and Criminal Psychology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan P. Vallano
    • 1
  • Jennifer Pettalia
    • 2
  • Emily Pica
    • 2
  • Joanna Pozzulo
    • 2
  1. 1.Behavioral Sciences DivisionUniversity of Pittsburgh at GreensburgGreensburgUSA
  2. 2.Carleton UniversityOttawaCanada

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