Face Recognition in Eyewitness Memory

R.C.L. Lindsay, Jamal K. Mansour, Michelle I. Bertrand, Natalie Kalmet and Elisabeth I. Melsom

in Oxford Handbook of Face Perception

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199559053
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Face Recognition in Eyewitness Memory

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  • Cognitive Psychology



Two types of variables impact face recognition: estimator variables that cannot be controlled and system variables that are under direct control by the criminal justice system. This article addresses some of the reasons that eyewitnesses are prone to making errors, particularly false identifications. It provides a discussion of the differences between typical facial memory and eyewitness studies and shows that the two areas generally find similar results. It reviews estimator variable effects and focuses on system variables. Traditional facial recognition researchers rarely study system variables but reveal important factors that police and policy makers should consider with regard to eyewitness identification and the courts. It concludes that there is still room for considerable improvement in identification procedures and wants to encourage more system variable research as a means of reducing wrongful convictions.

Keywords: face recognition; facial memory; eyewitness studies; estimator variables; system variables

Article.  12964 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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