Verifying other-race identity in forensic settings: Increasing tolerance for variability in appearance
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When viewing unfamiliar faces, photos of the same person often are perceived as belonging to different people and photos of different people as belonging to the same person. Identity matching of unfamiliar faces is especially challenging when the photos are of a person whose ethnicity differs from that of the observer. In contrast, matching is trivial when viewing familiar faces, regardless of race. In a 1-in-30-lineup task in which participants are asked to find the image of a target from an array of 30 identities, viewing multiple images of an own-race target improves performance, reflecting rapid familiarization (Dowsett et al., 2016). Here, participants were asked to find an other-race target from an array of 30 images, and participants’ performance on this task was observed as they were provided with additional images of each other-race target. I report rapid familiarization when the target was known to be present (Experiment 1) but not when both target-present and target-absent trials were included in the task (Experiment 2). Viewing multiple images of a target-absent identity provided no benefit in reducing false alarms. Although a possible route to familiarization with other-race faces, my findings suggest caution for the use of multiple images in applied face verification settings.