Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

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



Carina Hahn, Liansheng Larry Tang, Amy Yates, P. Jonathon Phillips


We evaluated the detailed, behavioral properties of face matching performance in two specialist groups: forensic facial examiners and super-recognizers. Both groups compare 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. Facial examiners took advantage of the full 7-point identity judgment scale; super-recognizers' judgments clustered toward highly confident decisions. Facial examiners' identity judgments for same-identities and different-identities mirrored each other; those from super-recognizers did not. Facial 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. These findings show that to better understand and interpret judgments according to the nature of someone's facial expertise, evaluations should assess more than accuracy.
PsyArXiv Preprints


biometrics, decision making, facial comparison, facial forensics, facial identification, facial recognition, forensic facial examiner, super-recognizer


Hahn, C. , Tang, L. , Yates, A. and Phillips, P. (2021), Forensic facial examiners versus super‐recognizers: Evaluating behavior beyond accuracy, PsyArXiv Preprints, [online],,, (Accessed May 19, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created August 24, 2021, Updated April 8, 2024