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.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037//0021-9010.87.5.894

URL: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/apl/87/5/

Abstract

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.

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