The selective cue integration framework: a theory of postidentification witness confidence assessment

J Exp Psychol Appl. 2010 Jun;16(2):204-18. doi: 10.1037/a0019495.


The current manuscript proposes a theory of how witnesses assess their confidence following a lineup identification, called the selective cue integration framework (SCIF). Drawing from past research on the postidentification feedback effect, the SCIF details a three-stage process of confidence assessment that is based largely on a conceptualization of feedback-produced confidence inflation as an attitude change phenomenon. According to the SCIF, when asked to assess their confidence, witnesses assess the strength of their internal accuracy cues (assessment stage). If weak, witnesses look specifically for external accuracy cues that can justify their identification decision (search stage). Finally, these justifying external cues are submitted to a credibility check (evaluation stage); if no credibility-undermining information is uncovered, they become integrated into one's confidence assessment. Three studies used college students as mock-witnesses to test predictions derived from the SCIF. In study 1a, lineup identification confidence was unaffected by disconfirming feedback unless that statement recanted previously administered confirming feedback, suggesting the existence of different stages in the confidence assessment process. Study 1b demonstrated that the effects of recanted feedback depend only on a discrediting of the feedback itself, and not on the discrediting of the identification. Study 2 demonstrated the generality of the SCIF by showing its predictive ability within a novel and methodologically improved postidentification cowitness feedback paradigm. Results across all three studies supported the SCIF as a theoretical framework for witness confidence assessment, suggest a new means of eliminating the feedback effect, and unite postidentification feedback and cowitness phenomena under a common theoretical umbrella.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior
  • Cues
  • Feedback, Psychological / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychological Theory
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*