RICHARD ROSEN , Law Professor, University of North Carolina:
Study after study shows that there is a much higher chance of a misidentification when you have somebody trying to make the identification across racial lines..... People are most able to accurately identify those from their own racial group because they're used to making the distinctions between those who they spend time with regularly. So that when psychologists do studies of identifications they find a higher incidence of misidentifications when the identification is cross-racial.
Whites tend to identify whites with more accuracy, blacks tend to identify blacks with more accuracy. We are able to distinguish the features of those whom we're most familiar with. Most whites spent most of their time with other white people, most blacks spend most of their time with other black people distinguishing between people of their own race.
ELIZABETH LOFTUS, Forensic Psychologist:
We do have more difficulty identifying the faces of strangers of a different race than the faces of strangers of our own race. It may be that what is happening in a cross-racial situation is that you're actually scanning the face differently when it's a member of a different race.
I could give you one example. If you're looking at the face of an Asian person and you're Caucasian maybe you notice those eyes because they're a little bit unusual. Later you go to a lineup and those unusual eyes are present in all the cases because you've got a lineup that's full of Asians and that doesn't help you very much in making that discrimination -- which particular face did I see. So we might be looking at the faces differently when they're faces of a different race.