The ‘main reason’ innocent people are found guilty

Most people would say that shifty eyes make you look suspicious but
holding someones gaze is more likely to make you appear guilty,
according to a new study.

The new study from the University of Sydney, shows that people stood
in a police line-up were more likely to be picked out as guilty if
they made direct eye contact with the victim. Holding someone's gaze
is the main reason innocent people are picked out as guilty, according
to the study, as doing so makes the person appear more familiar to
you. Jessica Taubert, lead author of the study, told the Sydney
Morning Herald: 'In line-up recognition tasks,
the face looking directly at you is more likely to look familiar than
faces looking away from you. This leads to more misidentification
errors for direct gaze faces.

The study was co-authored by Celine van Golde, founder and director of
Not Guilty: The Sydney Exoneration Project. who said that mistaken
identity was the main reason for wrongful conviction. In the United
States this was the reason behind 72% of cases that ended with
innocent defendants being found guilty. She added: 'It's a very strong
social cue. If there's someone looking
directly at you, or it feels like they're looking directly at you,
that might have a sense of familiarity to you. It can cause this bias,
in giving you this sense of familiarity that's not there.' In the
study subjects were shown short video clips of people and then
asked to pick them out from a lineup. Those who made mistakes were
most likely to pick someone who looked straight at them.

The full study was published in the Journal i-Perception

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