Feature instructions improve face-matching accuracy

2018-03-15T17:33:33Z (GMT) by Ahmed M. Megreya Markus Bindemann

Identity comparisons of photographs of unfamiliar faces are prone to error but important for applied settings, such as person identification at passport control. Finding techniques to improve face-matching accuracy is therefore an important contemporary research topic. This study investigated whether matching accuracy can be improved by instruction to attend to specific facial features. Experiment 1 showed that instruction to attend to the eyebrows enhanced matching accuracy for optimized same-day same-race face pairs but not for other-race faces. By contrast, accuracy was unaffected by instruction to attend to the eyes, and declined with instruction to attend to ears. Experiment 2 replicated the eyebrow-instruction improvement with a different set of same-race faces, comprising both optimized same-day and more challenging different-day face pairs. These findings suggest that instruction to attend to specific features can enhance face-matching accuracy, but feature selection is crucial and generalization across face sets may be limited.