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ERIC Number: EJ945125
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Dec
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0277
Variability in Photos of the Same Face
Jenkins, Rob; White, David; Van Montfort, Xandra; Burton, A. Mike
Cognition, v121 n3 p313-323 Dec 2011
Psychological studies of face recognition have typically ignored within-person variation in appearance, instead emphasising differences "between" individuals. Studies typically assume that a photograph adequately captures a person's appearance, and for that reason most studies use just one, or a small number of photos per person. Here we show that photographs are not consistent indicators of facial appearance because they are blind to within-person variability. Crucially, this within-person variability is often very large compared to the differences between people. To investigate variability in photos of the same face, we collected images from the internet to sample a realistic range for each individual. In Experiments 1 and 2, unfamiliar viewers perceived images of the same person as being different individuals, while familiar viewers perfectly identified the same photos. In Experiment 3, multiple photographs of any individual formed a continuum of good to bad likeness, which was highly sensitive to familiarity. Finally, in Experiment 4, we found that within-person variability exceeded between-person variability in attractiveness. These observations are critical to our understanding of face processing, because they suggest that a key component of face processing has been ignored. As well as its theoretical significance, this scale of variability has important practical implications. For example, our findings suggest that face photographs are unsuitable as proof of identity. (Contains 3 tables and 7 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A