Simulated Automated Facial Recognition Systems as Decision-Aids in Forensic Face Matching Tasks

Alternative title Simulated AFRS as decision-aids in face matching



Carragher DJ & Hancock PJB (2022) Simulated Automated Facial Recognition Systems as Decision-Aids in Forensic Face Matching Tasks [Simulated AFRS as decision-aids in face matching]. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Automated Facial Recognition Systems (AFRS) are used by governments, law enforcement agencies and private businesses to verify the identity of individuals. While previous research has compared the performance of AFRS and humans on tasks of one-to-one face matching, little is known about how effectively human operators can use these AFRS as decision-aids. Our aim was to investigate how the prior decision from an AFRS affects human performance on a face matching task, and to establish whether human oversight of AFRS decisions can lead to collaborative performance gains for the human algorithm team. The identification decisions from our simulated AFRS were informed by the performance of a real, state-of-the-art, Deep Convolutional Neural Network (DCNN) AFRS on the same task. Across five pre-registered experiments, human operators used the decisions from highly accurate AFRS (>90%) to improve their own face matching performance compared to baseline (sensitivity gain: Cohen’s d = 0.71-1.28; overall accuracy gain: d = 0.73-1.46). Yet, despite this improvement, AFRS-aided human performance consistently failed to reach the level that the AFRS achieved alone. Even when the AFRS erred only on the face pairs with the highest human accuracy (>89%), participants often failed to correct the system’s errors, while also overruling many correct decisions, raising questions about the conditions under which human oversight might enhance AFRS operation. Overall, these data demonstrate that the human operator is a limiting factor in this simple model of human-AFRS teaming. These findings have implications for the “human-in-the-loop” approach to AFRS oversight in forensic face matching scenarios

human-algorithm teaming; face recognition; automation; verification; collaborative decision-making

Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General

StatusIn Press
FundersEPSRC Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Publication date online01/12/2022
Date accepted by journal10/09/2022

People (1)


Professor Peter Hancock

Professor Peter Hancock

Professor, Psychology

Projects (1)

FACERVM - Face Matching

Research centres/groups