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The Relative Utility of Verbal Descriptions and Facial Composites in Facial Identifications

Lech, Agnieszka M., Johnston, Robert A. (2011) The Relative Utility of Verbal Descriptions and Facial Composites in Facial Identifications. International Journal of Bio-Science and Bio-Technology, 3 (3). pp. 1-16. ISSN 2233-7849. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:34451)

Language: English

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Research on early facial composite systems has often demonstrated their poor capability to produce a good likeness of a target face. Photofit composites have been shown to produce poorer identification than simply furnishing a description of a target face. The current study revisits this comparison with composites produced using a holistic based composite system, EFIT-V. The effectiveness of verbal descriptions of faces was compared with facial composites in two laboratory tasks. Prior to the empirical work, eight ‘witnesses’ viewed an unfamiliar face and then provided a verbal description and created a facial composite. In Experiment 1 participants evaluated the relationship between a target face and three combinations of witness information (description alone, composite alone and description and composite combined). Providing a description was rated as more useful than providing a composite. In addition, presenting both a composite and description together was rated as less useful than presenting a description on its own. In Experiment 2 participants were supplied with the same types of information while they attempted to choose the target from an array of faces. Better performance was achieved from a description than from a composite or a description and composite combined. Analysis of participants’ confidence in their decisions showed it was higher when prompted by descriptions, irrespective of whether the decisions were correct or not. The implications of these findings for the utility of facial composites are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Photofit composites, EFIT-V, facial composites, verbal descriptions
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Robert Johnston
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2013 17:49 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:11 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Johnston, Robert A..

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