Missing Children Photograph Appeals: Does the Number of Appeals Affect Identification Accuracy Following a Short Recall Delay?

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The study objectives were (1) to determine if there were any associations between the time spent observing fictional appeals and identification accuracy, (2) to establish if the number of missing children photographs observed influences identification accuracy and (3) to determine whether the number of missing children appeals observed influences identification accuracy following a short 3-day delay. A two-stage approach was utilised. Two hundred and forty-two participants observed one, four or eight mock missing children photographs followed by a short word memory distraction task and a target present line-up identification task. The second stage comprised of another target present line-up identification task presented after a short 3-day delay. One-way between-group ANOVAs indicate that observing one missing child photograph has significantly greater overall identification accuracy and lower identification error than viewing four or eight photographs immediately after observing the appeal and following a 3-day delay. Additional analyses found that the identification accuracy was significantly higher immediately after observation compared with the identification accuracy following a 3-day delay. The findings demonstrate the necessity for improving missing children appeals. Due to the exploratory nature of the study, additional research is required to explore these factors further.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-427
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date26 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


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