The Open UniversitySkip to content

Are two views better than one? Investigating three-quarter view facial composites

Ness, Hayley; Hancock, Peter J.B.; Bowie, Leslie; Bruce, Vicki and Pike, Graham (2015). Are two views better than one? Investigating three-quarter view facial composites. Journal of Forensic Practice, 17(4) pp. 291–306.

Full text available as:
PDF (Accepted Manuscript) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (320kB) | Preview
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Purpose – The introduction of a three-quarter-view database in the PRO-fit facial-composite system has enabled an investigation into the effects of image view in face construction. The article examines the impact of constructing full-face and three-quarter-view composites under different encoding conditions. It also examines the potential value of three-quarter-view composites that can be generated automatically from a front-view composite. We also investigate whether there is an identification benefit for presenting full-face and three-quarter composites together.
Design/methodology/approach – Three experiments examine the impact of encoding conditions on composite construction and presentation of composites at the evaluation stage.
Findings – The work revealed that while standard full-face composites perform well when all views of the face have been encoded, care should be taken when a person has only seen one view. When a witness has seen a side view of a suspect, a three-quarter-view composite should be constructed. Also, it would be beneficial for a witness to construct two composites of a suspect, one in full-face view and one in a three-quarter-view, particularly when the witness has only encoded one view. No benefit emerged for use of three-quarter-view composites generated automatically.
Research limitations/implications – This is the first study to examine viewpoint in facial composite construction. While a great deal of research has examined viewpoint dependency in face recognition tasks, composite construction is a reconstruction task involving both recall and recognition. The results indicate that there is a viewpoint effect that is similar to that described in the recognition literature. However, more research is needed in this area.
Practical implications – The practical implications of this research are that it is extremely important for facial composite operators in the field (police operators) to know who will make a good likeness of the target. Research such as this which examines real-life issues is incredibly important. This research shows that if a witness has seen all views of a perpetrator’s face then standard composite construction using a full-face view will work well. However, if they have only seen a single view then it will not.
Social implications – There are obvious wider societal implications for any research which deals with eyewitness memory and the potential identification of perpetrators.
Originality/value – No research to date has formally examined the impact of viewpoint in facial-composite construction.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2015 Emerald Group Publishing
ISSN: 2050-8794
Keywords: Viewpoint; Eyewitness memory; Facial composites; Forensic cognition; PRO-fit; Three-quarter-view
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Psychology and Counselling > Psychology
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Psychology and Counselling
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Research Group: Centre for Policing Research and Learning (CPRL)
Harm and Evidence Research Collaborative (HERC)
Item ID: 54671
Depositing User: Graham Pike
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2018 09:44
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2019 18:26
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU