Disguising external features affects identification accuracy in video identification lineups
Hooded garments are a widespread fashion article and readily lend themselves as a disguise in terms of covering the hair and majority of the face. The presence of external features and maintaining the context in which a face was first seen have both been found to facilitate unfamiliar face recognition (Walker-Smith, 1978; Cutler, Penrod & Martens, 1987; Henderson, Bruce & Burton, 2001; O’Donnell & Bruce, 2001; Nachson & Shechory, 2002; Want, Pascalis, Coleman & Blades, 2004; Clutterbuck & Johnston, 2005). The following research investigated whether obscuring the hairstyle of a perpetrator of a crime affects subsequent identification when viewed in a video identification parade where hair is visible (i.e. context has been changed). Participants (N = 96) viewed a crime scenario and video identity parade where external features were manipulated in terms of absence of a hood. Correct identifications were significantly higher for congruent film and parade conditions and lowest when a hood was worn during the crime but absent on the video identity parade. Also examined was the relationship between confidence and accuracy, considering inflated levels of confidence have been associated with low levels of identification (Cutler, Penrod & Dexter, 1990; Brewer & Burke, 2002; Memon, Hope & Bull, 2003). A significant association was also observed between confidence and accuracy levels with moderate levels of confidence being associated with moderate levels of accuracy. Results are interpreted in terms of the importance of external features in unfamiliar face recognition and preserving conditions between encoding and subsequent presentations of the face to permit optimum conditions for identification in video identity parades. Effects of briefing procedure and sex differences in identification are also discussed.
- MPhil