Health, Sports & Psychology

Identifying faces

Updated Friday 9th April 2010

Using an E-FIT facial composite system the Open University has created some celebrity images. Look at the images and see if you can tell who they are.

Eyewitness experts: Martin Conway, Becky Milne and Graham Pike Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team

In the second episode of Eyewitness our ten contributors attempted to identify the masked gunman and get-away driver in a VIPER identification parade – but most were unable to make an identification and several identified the wrong person!

Why was this? One of the key problems is that the faces of the criminals were unfamiliar to the witnesses. We are extremely good at recognising familiar faces – obviously the witnesses would have had no problems in identifying the criminals if they were good friends – but can be extremely bad at recognising unfamiliar faces.

We can recognise someone we know well despite significant changes to their appearance and even if we haven’t seen them in a long time. In fact, we can sometimes recognise a familiar face even if it has been constructed using the features from an unfamiliar face.

Indeed, piecing together a face from the features of different strangers is just how the E-FIT facial composite system works (this is the system demonstrated in the second episode). The images below are all E-FITs of famous people – have a look and see if you can identify which celebrity is being portrayed.

Famous EFIT 1: Copyright Graham Pike Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission Famous EFIT 2: Copyright Graham Pike Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission

 

Famous EFIT 3: Copyright Graham Pike Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission Famous EFIT 4: Copyright Graham Pike Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission

 

 

Famous EFIT 5: Copyright Graham Pike Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission F Famous EFIT 6: Copyright Graham Pike Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission

How many did you get? From the top, you have been watching Paul McCartney, Sean Connery, Harrison Ford, Gary Lineker, John Cleese and Prince Charles.

Find out more

 

Really keen? Consider The Open University's Discovering Psychology course.

 

 

 

 

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