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Forensic facial examiners versus super-recognizers: Evaluating behavior beyond accuracy

NCJ Number
Applied Cognitive Psychology Volume: Online Dated: September 2022
Date Published
September 2022
10 pages

We evaluated the detailed, behavioral properties of face matching performance in two specialist groups: forensic facial examiners and super-recognizers. 


Both groups compared faces to determine identity with high accuracy and outperform the general population. Typically, facial examiners are highly trained; super-recognizers rely on natural ability. We found distinct behaviors between these two groups. Examiners used the full 7-point identity judgment scale (−3: “different”; +3: “same”). Super-recognizers' judgments clustered toward highly confident decisions. Examiners' judgments for same- and different-identities were symmetric across the scale midpoint (0); super-recognizers' judgments were not. Examiners showed higher identity judgment agreement than super-recognizers. Despite these qualitative differences, both groups showed insight into their own accuracy: more confident people and those who rated the task to be easier tended to be more accurate. Altogether, we show to better understand and interpret judgments according to the nature of someone's facial expertise, evaluations should assess more than accuracy. (Publisher abstract provided)

Date Published: September 1, 2022