Research Output
An application of caricature: How to improve the recognition of facial composites
  Facial caricatures exaggerate the distinctive features of a face and may elevate the recognition of a familiar face. We investigate whether the recognition of facial composites, or pictures of criminal faces, could be similarly enhanced. In this study, participants first estimated the degree of caricature necessary to make composites most identifiable. Contrary to expectation, an anti-caricature was found to be best, presumably as this tended to reduce the appearance of errors. In support of this explanation, more positive caricature estimates were assigned to morphed composites: representations which tend to contain less overall error. In addition, anti-caricaturing reduced identification for morphed composites but enhanced identification for individual composites. While such improvements were too small to be of value to law enforcement, a sizeable naming benefit was observed when presenting a range of caricature states, which appeared to capitalise on individual differences in the internal representation of familiar faces.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    19 October 2007

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  • Publisher

    Informa UK Limited

  • DOI:


  • Cross Ref:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    BF Psychology

  • Funders:

    Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council,


Frowd, C., Bruce, V., Ross, D., McIntyre, A., & Hancock, P. J. B. (2007). An application of caricature: How to improve the recognition of facial composites. Visual Cognition, 15(8), 954-984.



Experimental and Cognitive Psychology; Cognitive Neuroscience

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