Crowd effects in unfamiliar face matching

David White*, A. Mike Burton, Richard I. Kemp, Rob Jenkins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)
40 Downloads (Pure)


Psychological research shows that humans can not reliably match unfamiliar faces. This presents a practical problem, because identity verification processes in a variety of occupational settings depend on people to perform these tasks reliably. In this context, it is surprising that very few studies have attempted to improve human performance. Here, we investigate whether distributing face matching tasks across groups of individuals might help to solve this problem. Across four studies, we measure the accuracy of the 'crowd' on a standard test of face matching ability and find that aggregating individual responses produces substantial gains in matching accuracy. We discuss the practical implications of this result and also suggest ways in which this approach might be used to improve our understanding of face perception more generally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-777
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


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