September 2018
Volume 18, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2018
How to Get Away with Murder: The Effect of Hoodies and Glasses on Facial Recognition
Author Affiliations
  • Alexis Drain
    Psychology, Humanities, California State University, Fullerton
  • Rebecca Fisk
    Psychology, Humanities, California State University, Fullerton
  • Cindy Bukach
    Psychology, School of Arts and Sciences, University of Richmond
  • Iris Blandon-Gitlin
    Psychology, Humanities, California State University, Fullerton
  • Jessie Peissig
    Psychology, Humanities, California State University, Fullerton
Journal of Vision September 2018, Vol.18, 1345. doi:
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      Alexis Drain, Rebecca Fisk, Cindy Bukach, Iris Blandon-Gitlin, Jessie Peissig; How to Get Away with Murder: The Effect of Hoodies and Glasses on Facial Recognition. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):1345.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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In this study, we examined how disguises and race might interact to hinder a person's ability to recognize faces. In previous studies, we've found that disguises significantly reduce a person's recognition accuracy (Righi, Peissig, Tarr, 2012). We test whether this reduction is further complicated when the face is of a different race. This study has practical relevance as well; one of the authors on this study has been approached to act as an expert witness in court cases using eyewitness testimony in which the perpetrator's appearance was almost entirely obscured by a disguise. In the learning phase, participants were shown faces that were either of the same race or another race (Asian, Hispanic, or White), and with or without a disguise (hoodie and glasses). After the learning phase, the participants had a 20-minute break during which they completed other unrelated tasks. In the subsequent testing phase, participants determined if a face was old or new; all faces had no disguise during testing. We tested 81 participants, 32 Asian, 29 Hispanic, and 20 White. We found that participants were significantly poorer at recognizing faces that had been disguised with a hoodie and glasses (F(1) = 188.77, p < .001). They responded that it was a new face 66.3% of the time on those trials, compared to only 39.2% for faces they learned with no disguise. In addition, we found no significant interaction between race of the participant and race of the faces (F(4) = 1.09, p = .37). These data suggest that using a disguise such as a hoodie and glasses will significantly reduce the ability to recognize the face, casting serious doubt on any eyewitness identification of anyone disguised in this way. In addition, race does not appear to further influence these effects.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018


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