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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Super-recognizers: From the lab to the world and back again
Author(s): Ramon, Meike
Bobak, Anna K
White, David
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Keywords: face identification
face matching
face processing
face recognition
Issue Date: Aug-2019
Citation: Ramon M, Bobak AK & White D (2019) Super-recognizers: From the lab to the world and back again. British Journal of Psychology, 110 (3), pp. 461-479.
Abstract: The recent discovery of individuals with superior face processing ability has sparked considerable interest amongst cognitive scientists and practitioners alike. These ‘Super‐recognizers’ (SRs) offer clues to the underlying processes responsible for high levels of face processing ability. It has been claimed that they can help make societies safer and fairer by improving accuracy of facial identity processing in real‐world tasks, for example when identifying suspects from Closed Circuit Television or performing security‐critical identity verification tasks. Here, we argue that the current understanding of superior face processing does not justify widespread interest in SR deployment: There are relatively few studies of SRs and no evidence that high accuracy on laboratory‐based tests translates directly to operational deployment. Using simulated data, we show that modest accuracy benefits can be expected from deploying SRs on the basis of ideally calibrated laboratory tests. Attaining more substantial benefits will require greater levels of communication and collaboration between psychologists and practitioners. We propose that translational and reverse‐translational approaches to knowledge development are critical to advance current understanding and to enable optimal deployment of SRs in society. Finally, we outline knowledge gaps that this approach can help address.
DOI Link: 10.1111/bjop.12368
Rights: © 2019 The Authors. British Journal of Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Psychological Society This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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