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Who Is That? Perceptual Expertise on Other-Race Face Comparisons, Disguised Face Comparisons, and Face Memory



Amy Yates, Jacqueline Cavazos, Geraldine Jeckeln, Ying Hu, Eilidh Noyes, Carina Hahn, Alice O'Toole, P. Jonathon Phillips


Forensic facial specialists identify faces more accurately than untrained participants on tests using high quality images of faces. Whether this superiority holds in more challenging conditions is not known. Here, we measured performance for forensic facial specialist groups (facial examiners and facial reviewers) and a group of untrained control participants (undergraduates). We tested performance in three challenging tasks: other-race face identification, disguised face identification, and memory for faces. We note that the administration of the other-race and disguise tests here did not allow experts access to the time and tools they typically use in casework. On the other-race face identification task, specialists' accuracy did not exceed the accuracy of the control participants. Examiners were more accurate than controls on impersonation disguise, but were not consistently more accurate than controls on evasion disguise. On the Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT+), examiners' performance was marginally better than controls; and reviewers and controls performed equally well. We conclude that examiners' face identification superiority does not generalize completely to identification of other-race and disguised faces.


Yates, A. , Cavazos, J. , Jeckeln, G. , Hu, Y. , Noyes, E. , Hahn, C. , O'Toole, A. and Phillips, P. (2023), Who Is That? Perceptual Expertise on Other-Race Face Comparisons, Disguised Face Comparisons, and Face Memory,, [online],,, (Accessed June 21, 2024)


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Created April 20, 2023