An application of caricature: how to improve the recognition of facial composites



Frowd CD, Bruce V, Ross D, McIntyre AH & Hancock PJB (2007) An application of caricature: how to improve the recognition of facial composites. Visual Cognition, 15 (8), pp. 954-984.

Facial caricatures exaggerate the distinctive features of a face and may elevate the recognition of a familiar face. We investigate whether the recognition of facial composites, or pictures of criminal faces, could be similarly enhanced. In this study, participants first estimated the degree of caricature necessary to make composites most identifiable. Contrary to expectation, an anti-caricature was found to be best, presumably as this tended to reduce the appearance of errors. In support of this explanation, more positive caricature estimates were assigned to morphed composites: representations which tend to contain less overall error. In addition, anti-caricaturing reduced identification for morphed composites but enhanced identification for individual composites. While such improvements were too small to be of value to law enforcement, a sizeable naming benefit was observed when presenting a range of caricature states, which appeared to capitalise on individual differences in the internal representation of familiar faces.

Caricature; Facial composites; Identification; Face perception; Face Physiology

Visual Cognition: Volume 15, Issue 8

Publication date30/11/2007
Publication date online19/10/2007
PublisherTaylor & Francis (Psychology Press)

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Professor Peter Hancock

Professor Peter Hancock

Professor, Psychology