PSA: Don't Make Eye Contact In A Police Line-Up If You're Innocent

By Holly Brockwell on at

We've all heard that looking people in the eye is a great way to make them trust you - you seem like an upstanding human being who has nothing to hide, right? Well, chuck that out the window, because a new study reckons people who look you in the eye during police line-ups are more likely to be picked as guilty - even if they've done nothing wrong.

Research from the University of Sydney apparently found that looking someone in the eye makes you appear more familiar to them, which isn't a bad thing out in the real world - but in the contrived environs of a line-up, a familiar-looking person is more likely to be the suspect.

The study showed participants a short video, then asked them to pick out the same person in a line-up. People who got it wrong were more likely to choose the person who held their gaze. Asking the suspects to close their eyes apparently negated the effect (obviously - you can't make eye contact with an eyelid), but getting suspects in police line-ups to do that is going to be a) creepy and b) unhelpful, since eye colour is useful to working out if it's the same person. You'd remember if the dude who nicked your iPhone had dreamy sea-green eyes, right?

As ever, take the results of the study with a pinch of salt - but if you do ever find yourself behind the glass in a police-line up, take advantage of your natural awkwardness and look at your toes. [BT]

Main image: Pexels