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Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications


How should the accuracy of eyewitness identification decisions be measured, so that best practices for identification can be determined? This fundamental question is under intense debate. One side advocates for continued use of a traditional measure of identification accuracy, known as the diagnosticity ratio, whereas the other side argues that receiver operating characteristic curves (ROCs) should be used instead because diagnosticity is confounded with response bias. Diagnosticity proponents have offered several criticisms of ROCs, which we show are either false or irrelevant to the assessment of eyewitness accuracy. We also show that, like diagnosticity, Bayesian measures of identification accuracy confound response bias with witnesses’ ability to discriminate guilty from innocent suspects. ROCs are an essential tool for distinguishing memory-based processes from decisional aspects of a response; simulations of different possible identification tasks and response strategies show that they offer important constraints on theory development.





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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.