The role of internal and external features in recognition of faces as they become familiar
(2016) The role of internal and external features in recognition of faces as they become familiar, no. 34.
It is well documented that people are particularly good at identifying faces familiar to them, but they are bad at recognising unfamiliar faces. Many factors can either help or hurt the recognition of faces such as lighting, angle, movement, quality and salience of internal features. Research has also documented that the more instances in which we see a face, the faster and more accurate we will be at recognising that face, this is the main assumption of instance theory. The current experiment examined whether reliance on internal versus external features in recognition changes as a face becomes more familiar. Participants (n = 18) viewed 40 different faces 12, 14, 16, 18, or 20 times, so that familiarity with faces varied, and then completed a recognition memory test where they were presented with internal or external features of faces. The study found little evidence to support the idea that reliance on internal features increases and also did not find that participants became quicker when the faces were more familiar. However it was shown that the reliance on external features remained the same as the faces became more familiar. A greater range of presentations of the faces may be worthwhile to investigate further.