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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: A grey area: How does image hue affect unfamiliar face matching?
Author(s): Bobak, Anna
Mileva, Viktoria
Hancock, Peter
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Keywords: face matching
unfamiliar faces
ID checks
national security
face processing
Issue Date: 2019
Citation: Bobak A, Mileva V & Hancock P (2019) A grey area: How does image hue affect unfamiliar face matching?. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 4, Art. No.: 27.
Abstract: The role of image colour in face identification has received little attention in research despite the importance of identifying people from photographs in identity documents (IDs). Here, in two experiments, we investigated whether colour congruency of two photographs shown side by side affects face matching accuracy. Participants were presented with two images from the Models Face Matching Test (Experiment 1) and a newly devised matching task incorporating female faces (Experiment 2) and asked to decide whether they show the same person, or two different people. The photographs were either both in colour, both in grayscale, or mixed (one in grayscale and one in colour). Participants were more likely to accept a pair of images as a “match”, i.e. same person, in the mixed condition, regardless of whether the identity of the pair was the same or not. This demonstrates a clear shift in bias between “congruent” colour conditions and the mixed trials. In addition, there was a small decline in accuracy in the mixed condition, relative to when the images were presented in colour. Our study provides the first evidence that the hue of document photographs matters for face matching performance. This finding has important implications for the design and regulation of photographic ID worldwide.
DOI Link: 10.1186/s41235-019-0174-3
Rights: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
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