Working paper Open Access

The Effect of Arousal on Earwitness Identification

Suiter, Traci L.

This study reports on the effect of arousal on earwitness identification.

While performing a cover task, thirty-nine subjects (32 females and seven males) heard a series
of utterances in one of three voice tones (positive, neutral, or hostile). Subjects were
immediately presented with a six-voice lineup.

All subjects were tested immediately after hearing the target voice, and a subgroup of the subjects (21: 14 females, seven males) were also tested after a one-week delay. In addition to the identification lineup,
subjects gave the reason for their decision, their confidence level, their arousal level when initially hearing the target voice, height and weight estimates of the target voice, and any personality and physical characteristics they could ascribe to the voice they chose from the lineup. Eight correct identifications were obtained.

The only significant results obtained were for height estimates between the Neutral Tone and Hostile Tone
conditions and between the Neutral and Positive Tone conditions. The tone of the voice and the level of arousal had no significant effect on identification accuracy, and there was no significant correlation between the level of confidence and identification accuracy.

Subjects reported using process of elimination to match the target voice to the voice they chose from the lineup, and they ascribed more physical than personality characteristics to the voice they chose from the lineup.

This paper is copyrighted, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) - see
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