The covid 19 pandemic has caused major disruptions in people’s lives around the globe. Sleep habits and emotional balance have been disturbed in a way that could be comparable to the havoc caused by a deep personal crisis or a traumatic experience. This unfortunate situation provides a useful context in which to study the impact of these imbalances on cognitive processes. In particular, the field of eyewitness science could benefit from these conditions, since they are also often present in crime victims, but can only be generated in the laboratory up to a certain ethical and practical limit.
Here, we perform simple and repeated lineups with witnesses of mock-crime, considering the conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which to some extent allow emulating the deterioration in general well-being that often afflicts crime victims. For this, 72 participants completed symptomatology scales, and watched a video portraying a staged violent episode. Subsequently, they gave testimony and participated in two lineups, in which we manipulated the presence / absence of the perpetrator, to recreate critical scenarios for the appearance of false recognitions.
We found an increase in recognition errors in those individuals who did not have access to the perpetrator during the Initial Lineup. Additionally, the high levels of anxiety and bad quality of sleep developed during the Covid-19 Pandemic adversely affected the ability to witness and accurately recognize a perpetrator.