Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Barry Goetz

Second Advisor

Douglas Johnson


Eyewitness identification often plays a crucial role in the criminal justice system. It can be used to make an arrest, both exonerate and convict suspects, fuel police interrogation, and influence a plea bargaining decision. In the meantime, eyewitness misidentification has contributed to approximately 69% of the wrongful convictions, making it the leading factor in wrongful convictions nationwide. Hence, the central question that will be explored in this thesis is: Why eyewitness testimony is so powerful despite it is prone to error? To answer this question, this thesis will examine the role of eyewitness identification played in the criminal justice system from both sociological and psychological perspectives. Specifically, this thesis will first provide a brief overview of the existing methods of eyewitness identification and then present some basic psychological research on the reliability of human memory from three perspectives which are (a) the conformity of human memory, (b) the other-race effect (ORE) in human memory, and (c) the own-gender bias effect in human memory. Next, the role of race and police officers played in eyewitness identification will be explored. Lastly, this thesis will provide some recommendations on improving the future eyewitness identification procedures in order to strengthen the value of eyewitness testimony in the courtroom.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Thesis Defense.pdf (2103 kB)
Defense Presentation

Included in

Criminology Commons