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Understanding the multiframe caricature advantage for recognizing facial composites

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Eyewitnesses often construct a “composite” face of a person they saw commit a crime, a picture that police use to identify suspects. We described a technique (Frowd, Bruce, Ross, McIntyre, & Hancock, 2007) based on facial caricature to facilitate recognition of these images: Correct naming substantially improves when composites are seen with progressive positive caricature, where distinctive information is enhanced, and then with progressive negative caricature, the opposite. Over the course of four experiments, the underpinnings of this mechanism were explored. Positive-caricature levels were found to be largely responsible for improving naming of composites, with some benefit from negative-caricature levels. Also, different frame-presentation orders (forward, reverse, random, repeated) facilitated equivalent naming benefit relative to static composites. Overall, the data indicate that composites are usually constructed as negative caricatures.

Keywords: Caricature; Face space; Facial composite; Memory; Witness

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: School of Psychology,University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK 2: Department of Psychology,Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK 3: School of Psychology,Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK 4: School of Psychology,Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK 5: Department of Psychology,School of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK

Publication date: December 1, 2012


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