Jean Charles de Menezes: An Unfamiliar Face

Jean Charles de Menezes

The tragic shooting of Jean
Charles de Menezes (left) raises important questions about eyewitness testimony
and face recognition. BBC news have an article concentrating on the incredible
disparity between different eyewitness reports of the event. But, more
importantly for the police and for all our safety, how easy is it to
mis-identify an unfamiliar person?
Psychological studies into the
difference between how well familiar and unfamiliar faces are recognised shows
some surprising results. Early studies found that people were terrible at
identifying unfamiliar faces from CCTV footage – barely better than chance. A
later study using higher quality video only showed an improvement upto about
two-thirds – still a poor rate. In contrast, research consistently finds that
people are extremely accurate at identifying familiar faces, even when the
video footage is very poor.
the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD
is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from
University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about
scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book
“Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks.
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.