Welcome to my home page, which is also a rescource for those interested in eyewitness memory issues.
Scroll down first, then use your cursor to find links and download anything that interests you.
Virginia to revamp lineup procedures, story from the Washington Post
Listen to Feb 2005 NPR story on lineups 

Read Chicago Tribune story on lineups from February 17, 2005.

Read story from February 7, 2005 Chicago Tribune on lineups
Jury finds FBI framed man in part via eyewitness evidence; January 2005 article 
January 5, 2005 article on eyewitness identification from Legal Affairs Magazine

Dec. 8, 2004 Christian Science Monitor article on lineups
Police charge man based on witness identification from photo lineup. But he was dead a year before crime occurred: Associated Press story click here
Boston Police and Prosecutors propose lineup reforms!

Boston Globe article click here
Boston Herald article click here

North Carolina law enforcement moving towards double-blind sequential lineups. Article from Durham, NC News and Observer, June 2004.
Frequently asked questions about eyewitness identification
Scientific American article on lineups, click here

Click to read (April 2003) eyewitness identification article from The Washington Post
Click to read (April 2003) eyewitness identification article from The Economist
Click to read (April 2003) eyewitness identification article from The St. Petersburg Times
Read Newsday article on lineups from February 12, 2003, click here
"Eyewitness Expertise on Trial" article from the ABA Journal (American Bar Association Journal) 

New York continues to struggle with issue of lineup reforms: December 10, 2002 Newsday article click here.

Baltimore Sun article on eyewitness identification
USA Today front page article from Nov. 26, 2002 on eyewitness identification procedures click here to view

Oct. 16 story on eyewitnesses in DC area sniper case

NEW: Atlantic Monthly article by Margaret Talbot calls for sequential lineups and blind testing. Click here
The case for improving lineups and ideas on how to facilitate this change.
UK police hold dog lineup!

An analysis of the 100+ DNA exoneration cases click here
Click here to see the Illinois Governor's Commission Recommendations for lineups (they begin with recommendation 10). These are worth reading.

Eyewitness Expert testimony rulings in selected states, click here

See NY Law Journal article (from 4/29/02) describing Staten Island's first sequential lineup (click here)
CHAMPION readers: Click here to download the article that I mentioned in the Champion article

Fascinating new (2005) book by James Doyle titled True Witness: Cops, Courts, Science, and the Battle Against Misidentification. Click here for commentary and ordering information.
NEW! From this link you can download several of my published articles.
New experiments show that having eyewitnesses build face composites can damage their ability to make an identification from a lineup. Click here to read manuscript
Memory for People and Events chapter by Wells & Loftus (2003) click here

Article published in Annual Review of Psychology (2003) on eyewitness identification by Wells and Olson, click here to download
Notes on Protocol for Collecting Data on Actual Lineups for Pilot Projects

Did Scott Peterson murder his wife? What is the evidentiary value of an extra-marital affair? (recent article by Wells)
The "Pleading Effect" This is a short section extracted from an upcoming chapter ("Applied Lineup Theory") by Steve Charman and Gary Wells. The pleading effect describes how mistaken identification rates in lineups can translate into very high rates of mistaken identification among cases that go to trial ...
New article in press in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. The article concerns the question of how the speed with which eyewitnesses make their identifications relates to the accuracy of the identifications...
The Psychology of Alibis: A taxonomy. This article was published recently in Law and Human Behavior. Click here to view
Article on the distorting effects of feedback on eyewitnesses (Wells, Olson, & Charman, 2003) published in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Article on best practices in constructing and conducting lineups, click here
Click here to download a PDF version of the Wells & Olson "Information Gain" article published in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 2002.
2002 article reports experiment showing lineup feedback harms accuracy-confidence relation (Bradfield, Wells, & Olson, Journal of Applied Psychology) View article here
Wells and Bradfield eyewitness article published in Psychological Science, click here.
Page proofs for a new article on eyewitness confidence to be published in Current Directions in Psychological Science
From the Lab to the Police Station: This is an article published in American Psychologist regarding the role of psychology in developing guidelines for eyewitness evidence. Click here 

What is wrong with the Manson v. Braithwaite (1977)  test of eyewitness identification evidence? Plenty. Click here

Ken Patanaude, of the Northampton, MA Police Department just published this article regarding their adoption of double-blind, sequential lineups.

Prestigous North Carolina Commission makes recommendations to change lineup procedures! 
Story 1 click here   Story 2 click here

The National Institute of Justice has now released its eyewitness training manual for law enforcement. I co-chaired the identification section. The Manual is not perfect, and it represented a compromise, but this manual can be quite useful for police trainers. Use this address to view and download:  http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/eyewitness/188678.html

NEW! Minnesota departments try new lineup procedures
June 2003 Wall Street Journal story, click here
Have a video viewer? Click here to take the Wells eyewitness test
No video viewer? take this one instead click here

Click HERE to download the Department of Justice Guide for the Collection and Preservation of Eyewitness Evidence

NEW Texas judge sees merit in proposed lineup reforms; click here

Click here to read a 30 May, 2002 article from the Christian Science Monitor on lineups.
 Canadian Judge Rules That Lineup Should Have Been Conducted Using Blind Procedure! (click here)
Drivers' licenses being used to construct photo lineups; click here
Chicago police so readily believe eyewitness identification that they charged a filler with murder! click here
click for humorous image

For a recent version of my 
curriculum vitae click  here.
For a list of my publications, click here
For a list of my recent talks click here.
For a short biographical sketch, click here

face composite of Wells

click for additional photos
Gary L. Wells, Ph.D. 
Professor of Psychology
Distinguished Professor 
of Liberal Arts and Sciences
E-mail Gary Wells

Mailing address:
Psychology Department 
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011
phone: 515-294-6033
fax: 515-294-6424

Click here to read an article on eyewitness identification from the New Yorker magazine January 8, 2001

Click here to view video from CBS News on Eyewitness Identification Procedures 
Click here to read an article on eyewitness expert testimony from the August 10, 2001 Wall Street Journal 
After reading the Wall Street Journal article, click here to read my comments.
Click here for an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education on eyewitness reseaerch.

New Jersey Adopts Sequential and Blind Testing With Lineups! Read this article from July 21 NEW YORK TIMES
Read New Jersey Guidelines and cover letter from Attorney General Farmer here
Here is an editorial on the New Jersey Guidelines

Click here to view a video that discusses problems with eyewitness identification.  It takes a few minutes to load, but it is worth it
Does the sequential lineup reduce accurate identifications in addition to reducing mistaken identifications? Yes, but...(click here)
Click here to listen to an NPR story on eyewitness identification from June 2000

Click HERE to read an article on eyewitness identification published in the APA Monitor

Click here to read a second article (Feb. 25, 2000 issue) on eyewitness identification from The Chronicle of Higher Education. 

Check out this LA Times story from July 19, 2000.  Click Here

The Psychology of Alibis  Interested?  Then click here.

Who were the eyewitness researchers involved in the Department of Justice guidelines project?
 Click here.

Image:  Nice lineup! Click here

For a copy of a recent article concerning stimulus sampling as a research methodology issue, click here.
Expert Testimony on Eyewitness Issues For those interested in expert testimony or consulting on eyewitness issues, please read this expert services information page.
For a complete list of Wells publications, click here
The incredible identification of Charles Huchting:  The half-hour recognition judgment.  Click here! 
Click here to view an article from the NY Daily News (July 27, 2000) in which eyewitness identification and a confession are proven false by a video alibi!

Click here to view a December 2000 New York Times article on an eyewitness case
Man who was mistakenly identified dies in Florida prison before DNA tests prove him innocent. Click here to view December 16, 2000 Miami Herald article

Click here to see an example of a biased and an unbiased lineup.

DNA to the rescue:  When an innocent suspect is identified by a confident eyewitness as being the perpetrator of a crime, there may be little to keep that person from being convicted.  Once convicted, there is little hope for later exoneration.  Since the advent of forensic DNA evidence, however, some people who were mistakenly identified by eyewitnesses and convicted by juries have been released from prison because the newly-analyzed DNA evidence proved that they did not commit the offense.  Under the aegis of the National Institute of Justice, a study was made of 28 cases of wrongful conviction. 
Click here to read this report titled "Convicted by juries: Exonerated by Science".
Notice:  A review of scientific research on eyewitnesses has resulted in a set of guidelines for how lineups and photo spreads should be constructed and conducted. You can download this document. See panel to the right.
In 1996, the American Psychology/Law Society appointed a committee to prepare a white paper reviewing the scientific evidence on eyewitness identification and describing rules for how lineups and photo spreads should be conducted.  This paper, authored by Gary Wells, Mark Small, Steve Penrod, Roy Malpass, Sol Fulero, and Elizabeth Brimacombe, was published in the journal Law and Human Behavior in December 1998.  The following link takes you to the text of this paper:  Scientific Review of Lineups paper, click here.
For a complete list of Wells publications, click here
For a list of Wells talks in 2000, click here
Tired of reading? Want to sit back and hear some interesting things about the reliability of eyewitnesses? If you have Real player 2.0 or higher (which allows you to listen to audio over your computer), then you will want to check out this story that was broadcast on NPR (National Public Radio) in June 1998. Simply click here: "mistaken eyewitnesses story broadcast on NPR"

If you do not have Real player, use the following download site and save the Real player program on your hard drive at no cost.
After you have saved Real player,  then come back and click on "mistaken eyewitnesses story broadcast on NPR" (above)

TWGEYE members click herefor collages from San Francisco
Flashback 1968 image
For a complete list of Wells publications, click here

Although psychological scientists have been studying human memory for over 100 years, not until the mid 1970's that a focus was directed to eyewitness memory. The importance of such research is easily substantiated because mistaken identification is the largest single cause of false conviction, accounting for more criminal convictions of innocent people than all other causescombined (see Wells, Small, Penrod, Malpass, Fulero, & Brimacombe, 1998). 

My eyewitness research program was launched in 1974 while still a graduate student.   It is directed at discovering the causes of mistaken identification from police lineups and photo spreads with a particular emphasis on how to prevent these errors. Numerous successful interventions have been developed, such as:

  • Improved instructions to eyewitnesses 
  • Improved techniques for structuring lineups and photo spreads
  • Safeguards for insuring the integrity of the administration of lineups and photo spreads.
This research has produced a large number of advances, such as developing a better understanding of  the tenuous link between confidence and accuracy in eyewitness identification, describing the origins of false confidence, defining the domain of variables that control accuracy, and proposing and developing new lineup procedures, such as the dual-lineup procedure as well as the sequential-lineup procedure. 

alibi scenarios


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