How does image background colour influence facial identification?

Havard, Catriona; Thirkettle, Martin; Barrett, David and Ritcher, Stephanie (2015). How does image background colour influence facial identification? In: 38th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP), 24-27 Aug 2015, Liverpool, UK.


In the UK, identification lineups have a standard background, either grey for VIPER lineups, or green for PROMAT lineups. However, as lineup fillers and suspects are filmed under a variety of lighting conditions, there can be a large variation in the colours of the background on which lineup members are presented, potentially causing some faces to appear more salient than others. Using the 1-in-10 face recognition paradigm (Bruce et al., 1999), we investigated whether manipulating the background colour of faces influenced identification for target present (TP) and target absent (TA) arrays. The first experiment used faces that were the same race (SR) as the participants, and found the colour manipulation significantly increased accuracy for TP lineups. The second experiment investigated the relationship between this effect and the own race effect (ORE). The ORE predicts individuals are more likely to correctly identify SR as compared to OR faces from TP lineups, and falsely identify OR faces from TA lineups at a higher rate to SR faces (Brigham, Bennett, Meissner & Mitchell, 2007). Results are discussed in terms of the implications for the creation and use of lineups and the relationship between background colour variation and the own race effect (ORE).

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