The Open UniversitySkip to content

Four heads are better than one: Combining face composites yields improvements in face likeness

Bruce, Vicki; Ness, Hayley; Hancock, Peter J. B; Newman, Craig and Rarity, Jenny (2002). Four heads are better than one: Combining face composites yields improvements in face likeness. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(5) pp. 894–902.

Full text available as:
PDF (Accepted Manuscript) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (212Kb)
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Four participants constructed face composites, of familiar and unfamiliar targets, using Pro-Fit, with reference images present or from memory. The "mean" of all 4 composites, created by morphing (4-morph) was rated as a better likeness than individual composites on average and was as good as the best individual likeness. When participants attempted to identify targets from line-ups, 4-morphs again performed as well as the best individual composite. In a second experiment, participants familiar with target women attempted to identify composites, and the trend showed better recognition from multiple composites, whether combined or shown together. In a line-up task with unfamiliar participants, 4-morphs produced most correct choices and fewest false positives from target-absent or target-present arrays. These results have practical implications for the way evidence from different witnesses is used in police investigations.

Item Type: Journal Article
Copyright Holders: 2002 APA
ISSN: 1939-1854
Keywords: Facial composites; morphing; witness
Academic Unit/Department: Social Sciences > Psychology in the Social Sciences
Social Sciences
Item ID: 24565
Depositing User: Hayley Ness
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2011 15:04
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2016 19:03
Share this page:

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   + 44 (0)870 333 4340