The psychology of face construction: Giving evolution a helping hand



Frowd CD, Bruce V, Pitchford M, Jackson S, Hepton G, Greenall M, McIntyre AH & Hancock PJB (2011) The psychology of face construction: Giving evolution a helping hand. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 25 (2), pp. 195-203.

Face construction by selecting individual facial features rarely produces recognisable images. We have been developing a system called EvoFIT that works by the repeated selection and breeding of complete faces. Here, we explored two techniques. The first blurred the external parts of the face, to help users focus on the important central facial region. The second, manipulated an evolved face using psychologically-useful „holistic‟ scales: age, masculinity, honesty, etc. Using face construction procedures that mirrored policework, a large benefit emerged for the holistic scales; the benefit of blurring accumulated over the construction process. Performance was best using both techniques: EvoFITs were correctly named 24.5% on average compared to 4.2% for faces constructed using a typical „feature‟ system. It is now possible, therefore, to evolve a fairly recognisable composite from a 2 day memory of a face, the norm for real witnesses. A plausible model to account for the findings is introduced.

EvoFIT; Face Physiology; Face perception; Photomontage

Applied Cognitive Psychology: Volume 25, Issue 2

Publication date31/03/2011
Publication date online01/02/2010

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Professor Peter Hancock

Professor Peter Hancock

Professor, Psychology