“In a normal facial recognition task, most people have score around 80% and that is actually quite poor, given how often we use our face as proof of our identity. It is particularly concerning when you consider that on your passport or driving licence, for example, the picture of you can be up to 10 years old. So when you show it to any person in authority, you are relying on them being able to recognise that the person stood in front of them is in fact the person pictured. Learning about how we recognise familiar identities such as Ken Barlow or Steve McDonald could definitely help us improve unfamiliar face recognition."
As we become familiar with someone, our brains collect information about the different ways in which that person might look and this should incorporate any specific changes due to aging. As a result, if you ask a person to recollect someone, or in this instance a TV character, a particular image will pop into their head. This mental image could in fact be from many years ago, and significantly influence their ability to recognise current images. In the case of factors such as passport control and identity protection, having a better understanding of those influences is critically important.
Lecturer in Psychology
Faculty of Health
Exceptional clinical and academic learning, social engagement and research in medicine, dentistry, nursing, psychology and health professions.