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Renaud Laguesse, Tolga Tez, Bronwyn Hall, Jessica Irons, Elinor McKone, Roberta Daini, Andrea Albonico, Manuela Malaspina, Elisabeth Taylor, Gillian Rhodes, Alexandra Charpentier, Bruno Rossion, Romina Palermo; Subjective self-assessment of face recognition ability is only weakly related to objective measures of face recognition performance. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):979. doi: 10.1167/13.9.979.
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Recent studies have shown wide individual differences in face identity recognition ability, ranging from "super-recognizers" (Russell et al., 2009) to developmental/congenital prosopagnosia (DP) (Berhmann & Avidan, 2005). Cases of DP are often identified following their self-reports of poor face recognition abilities, and in many labs this is confirmed by performance on objective tests. However, there is currently no evidence that subjective reports of face recognition difficulty truly reflect objective difficulties (De Haan, 1999). Here we report four studies performed in different institutions, with a large sample of typical participants (total N=300) who were all tested for their objective abilities with the Cambridge Face Memory Test (Duchaine & Nakayama, 2006) and other complementary face matching and memory tests. Subjective ability was assessed through a questionnaire used as a diagnostic tool of DP (Kennerknecht et al., 2008) in three studies, while a novel questionnaire was used in another. Psychometric properties of each test were good (high internal consistency; range of scores), and the objective measures were all highly correlated with each other. Despite this, correlations between subjective and objective measures were not significant in two studies. Correlations were significant, but small, in the other two studies, in which participants could gauge their face recognition ability during an objective task prior to completing the Kennerknecht questionnaire, or included a more detailed questionnaire. Altogether, this suggests only a minimal relationship between one’s self-evaluation of face recognition ability and objective measures of face recognition performance. These observations are problematic for the conclusions of studies that recruited so-called cases of developmental prosopagnosia based purely on subjective report. They also suggest that typical individuals have generally poor access to knowledge about their relative level of performance at face recognition, mirroring similar lack of insight into other perceptual skills that are not formally taught (e.g., color perception).
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013
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