Ear-catching versus eye-catching?

Some developments and current challenges in earwitness identification evidence


  • Kirsty Kirsty McDougall Theoretical and Applied Linguistics Section, Faculty and Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom




earwitness recognition, earwitness evidence, voice parades, voice line-ups, perceived voice similarity


While earwitness identification evidence collected through a voice parade can provide pivotal evidence in a criminal case, there remain many unanswered questions regarding the psychological and phonetic processes involved in this type of identification. The voice parade procedure currently used in England and Wales was developed analogously to the procedure used for eyewitness identification, yet recent research shows that, while there are some similarities between the processing of faces and voices, considerable differences exist. Research is needed to determine the optimal settings of the relevant variables in a voice parade procedure and how best to select foils for auditory comparison. Recent findings from the IVIP ‘Improving Voice Identification Procedures’ project are presented and their implications for voice parade construction discussed.