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The effect of image pixelation on unfamiliar face matching

Bindemann, Markus, Attard, Janice, Leach, Amy, Johnston, Robert A. (2013) The effect of image pixelation on unfamiliar face matching. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 27 (6). pp. 707-717. ISSN 0888-4080. (doi:10.1002/acp.2970) (KAR id:36097)


Low-resolution, pixelated images from CCTV can be used to compare the perpetrators of crime with high-resolution photographs of potential suspects. The current study investigated the accuracy of person identification under these conditions, by comparing high-resolution and pixelated photographs of unfamiliar faces in a series of matching tasks. Performance decreased gradually with different levels of pixelation and was close to chance with a horizontal image resolution of only 8 pixel bands per face (Experiment 1). Matching accuracy could be improved by reducing the size of pixelated faces (Experiment 2) or by varying the size of the to-be-compared-with high-resolution face image (Experiment 3). In addition, pixelation produced effects that appear to be separable from other factors that might affect matching performance, such as changes in face view (Experiment 4). These findings reaffirm that criminal identifications from CCTV must be treated with caution and provide some basic estimates for identification accuracy with different pixelation levels. This study also highlights potential methods for improving performance in this task.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1002/acp.2970
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Markus Bindemann
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2013 09:58 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 10:03 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Bindemann, Markus.

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Johnston, Robert A..

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