Face Identification in the Laboratory and in Virtual Worlds

Markus Bindemann*, Matthew C. Fysh, Iliyana V. Trifonova, John Allen, Cade McCall, A. Mike Burton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Investigations into human cognition typically control variables tightly in the laboratory or relinquish systematic control in field studies. Virtual Reality (VR) can provide an intermediate approach by facilitating research with complex but controlled environments. However, understanding of the correspondence between VR and laboratory paradigms is still limited. This study addresses this issue by comparing established laboratory tests of face identification with passport control at a VR airport. We show that test characteristics transcend comparison of the laboratory tests and VR and demonstrate consistent correlations between these tasks. However, person identification in VR was also marked by bias to accept mismatching identities. These findings support correspondence between laboratory tests of face perception and VR but also highlight the importance of understanding human behaviour under more complex conditions. This problem arises in many areas of psychology, and our study shows that VR offers a solution by providing complex but controlled environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-134
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Issue number1
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


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