The Open UniversitySkip to content

The headscarf effect: direct evidence from the eyewitness identification paradigm

Megreya, Ahmed M.; Memon, Amina and Havard, Catriona (2012). The headscarf effect: direct evidence from the eyewitness identification paradigm. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 26(2) pp. 308–315.

Full text available as:
Full text not publicly available (Version of Record)
Due to publisher licensing restrictions, this file is not available for public download
Click here to request a copy from the OU Author.
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Internal and external features dominate familiar and unfamiliar face recognition, respectively. However, this finding is not universal; Egyptians showed a robust internal-feature advantage for processing unfamiliar faces (Megreya & Bindemann, 2009). This bias was speculatively attributed to their long-term experiences for individuating female faces with headscarves, which completely cover the external features. Here, we provided an empirical test for this suggestion. Participants from Egypt and UK were presented with a staged crime, which was committed by an own-race woman with or without a headscarf. All participants were then asked to identify the culprit from a line-up involving 10 faces with or without headscarves. British participants showed an advantage when the culprit left her hair uncovered. In contrast, Egyptian observers showed an advantage when the culprit wore a headscarf. This Egyptian headscarf effect was also replicated using British faces, suggesting that it reflects a specific characteristic of participant nationality rather than face nationality. These results therefore provide evidence for how culture influences cognition.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
ISSN: 1099-0720
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Psychology
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Research Group: Harm and Evidence Research Collaborative (HERC)
Item ID: 29840
Depositing User: Catriona Havard
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2011 12:51
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2018 14:25
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU