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An experimental investigation: The effects of familiarity and lighting on face recognition accuracy.

Ellis, Natalie (2019) An experimental investigation: The effects of familiarity and lighting on face recognition accuracy. Edinburgh Napier University. (Unpublished)


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Face recognition often plays an important role in identification in many forensic settings as well as other commercial settings. Despite its prevalence, eyewitness memory and identification are highly error prone. Many factors can influence face recognition accuracy under a variety of different conditions. The aim of this research is to explore the influence of familiarity and lighting to accurately identify the correct face from CCVT footage in an experimental recognition memory task. Results found a large effect of familiarity in all responses where familiar targets were correctly identified more often than unfamiliar targets. Results found no significant differences between the lighting conditions, which may suggest that lighting has little to no effect on accuracy of identification in this task. Further analysis found that participants were better able to discriminate familiar faces from the distractor faces in line-ups compared to unfamiliar faces. It also found that familiarity or lighting did not appear to bias observers to make incorrect decisions. It can be concluded that a familiarity advantage is consistent across viewing conditions, suggesting that familiar faces provide the most accurate identification responses. This can effectively be explained by sensitivity as a significant difference was again found for familiarity. It is also concluded that it is not possible to fully determine the influence of lighting on face recognition accuracy from this study alone. No clear bias was found between conditions, which suggests that the familiarity and lighting have no impact of the likeliness of choice in this sample.

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