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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: The impact of weapons and unusual objects on the construction of facial composites
Author(s): Erickson, William Blake
Brown, Charity
Portch, Emma
Lampinen, James Michael
Marsh, John E
Fodarella, Cristina
Petkovic, Anna
Coultas, Carly
Newby, Amanda
Date, Louisa
Hancock, Peter J B
Frowd, Charlie D
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Keywords: Facial composite
law enforcement
Issue Date: 20-Jun-2022
Date Deposited: 24-Jun-2022
Citation: Erickson WB, Brown C, Portch E, Lampinen JM, Marsh JE, Fodarella C, Petkovic A, Coultas C, Newby A, Date L, Hancock PJB & Frowd CD (2022) The impact of weapons and unusual objects on the construction of facial composites. Psychology, Crime and Law.
Abstract: The presence of a weapon in the perpetration of a crime can impede an observer’s ability to describe and/or recognise the person responsible. In the current experiment, we explore whether weapons when present at encoding of a target identity interfere with the construction of a facial composite. Participants encoded an unfamiliar target face seen either on its own or paired with a knife. Encoding duration (10 or 30 s) was also manipulated. The following day, participants recalled the face and constructed a composite of it using a holistic system (EvoFIT). Correct naming of the participants’ composites was found to reduce reliably when target faces were paired with the weapon at 10 s but not at 30 s. These data suggest that the presence of a weapon reduces the effectiveness of facial composites following a short encoding duration. Implications for theory and police practice are discussed.
DOI Link: 10.1080/1068316x.2022.2079643
Rights: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Notes: Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online
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