Mileva VR, Hancock PJB & Langton SRH (2021) Visual search performance in 'CCTV' and mobile phone-like video footage. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 6, Art. No.: 63. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41235-021-00326-w
Finding an unfamiliar person in a crowd of others is an integral task for police officers, CCTV-operators, and security staff who may be looking for a suspect or missing person; however, research suggests that it is difficult and accuracy in such tasks is low. In two real-world visual-search experiments, we examined whether being provided with four images versus one image of an unfamiliar target person would help improve accuracy when searching for that person through video footage. In Experiment 1, videos were taken from above and at a distance to simulate CCTV, and images of the target showed their face and torso. In Experiment 2, videos were taken from approximately shoulder height, such as one would expect from body-camera or mobile phone recordings, and target images included only the face. Our findings suggest that having four images as exemplars leads to higher accuracy in the visual search tasks, but this only reached significance in Experiment 2. There also appears to be a conservative bias whereby participants are more likely to respond that the target is not in the video when presented with only one image as opposed to 4. These results point to there being an advantage for providing multiple images of targets for use in video visual-search.
Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications: Volume 6