Document Type

Poster Presentation


Unfortunately for law enforcement, many cases that need to be solved do not involve concrete evidence. Instead, they must rely on a witness to the crime. It has been proven that eyewitness identification is not always accurate, however, many innocent suspects have been sent to prison based on eyewitness testimony alone. People are not always able to recall events as they actually happened or the way they actually were. Many factors may influence a person's ability to correctly identify or recall a certain event or person. It has been found that race is one factor that may influence the ability to accurately recall a face. If race does have an affect on recollection and eyewitness testimony, it is extremely important to study it. There has been some research that shows a cross racial effect. In examination of the cross racial effect, we focused on the occurrence of the perceptual expertise phenomenon. An example of perceptual expertise follows: A person works with geometric shapes for the majority of his or her life. This same person is given a match-to-sample test. In this match-to-sample test, there are two different types of stimuli. There are wavy lines and there are geometric shapes. According to the perceptual expertise phenomenon, the participant will be much better at matching geometric shapes than matching wavy lines. It can be said that the person has a perceptual expertise for geometric shapes in this example because of exposure to them over the life span, unlike the unfamiliar waves. Knowing this, the participant should be able to match the geometric shape more quickly and with fewer mistakes. In the cross racial experiment proposed, perceptual expertise applies to experience, or lack thereof, with other races in comparison to ones own race. According to the perceptual expertise theory, a person would be better at matching persons of their own race than matching those of another race. It is for this reason that it is very important to study the same race phenomenon and perceptual expertise phenomenon and its effect on our society.

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Journal Title

Conference Proceedings: Undergraduate Social Science Research Conference





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©2003 by the University of Northern Iowa



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University of Northern Iowa


Cedar Falls, IA