Do masked-face lineups facilitate eyewitness identification of a masked individual?

Perpetrators often wear disguises like ski masks to hinder subsequent identification by witnesses or law enforcement officials. In criminal cases involving a masked perpetrator, the decision of whether and how to administer a lineup often rests on the investigating officer. To date, no evidence-based recommendations are available for eyewitness identifications of a masked perpetrator. In 4 experiments, we examined lineup identification performance depending on variations in both encoding (studying a full face vs. a partial/masked face) and retrieval conditions (identifying a target from a full-face lineup vs. a partial/masked-face lineup). In addition, we manipulated whether the target was present or absent in the lineup in Experiments 3 and 4. Across all experiments, when participants had encoded a masked face, the masked-face lineup increased identification accuracy relative to the full-face lineup. These data provide preliminary evidence that matching lineup construction to how witnesses originally encoded the perpetrator may enhance the accuracy of eyewitness identifications. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)