Psychology professor receives NSF award to research eyewitness identification errors

Dr. Nancy Steblay, Professor of Psychology, has been awarded funding from the National Science Foundation for the project, “Collaborative Research. RUI: Understanding and Predicting Eyewitness Identification Errors: Studies Using a Unique Set of Materials from Actual Lineups.” (NSF ID: SES -1420135). Total funding for the project is $397,600. The research will be conducted over the next three years in collaboration with Dr. Gary Wells at Iowa State University. Augsburg College will receive $134,219 in support of faculty-student research.

To better understand eyewitness identification errors, the research team will conduct a series of laboratory experiments using eyewitness data sets and lineup audio files from 855 real police investigations. These experiments will test theoretical ideas that have direct implications for police practice regarding the prediction of eyewitness identification decisions from lineup bias, eyewitness verbalizations during the lineup, witness confidence statements, and witness decision latency.  Differences between double-blind and single-blind lineups will be examined for evidence of suggestive lineup administrator behaviors and influence on eyewitness decisions. The investigators will also examine the role of contextual factors on how people evaluate witness certainty statements and how contextual factors might affect people’s perceptions of lineup administrator influence.

The results of this research will help address questions about external generalization of lab-based theory and serve as a model for collecting and analyzing materials and data from actual lineups in the field. Additionally, this project will provide hands-on research experience for up to 18 Augsburg undergraduate students.

If you have any questions about this research or would like to learn more, please contact Nancy Steblay at


Editor’s Note: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. SES-1420135. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.