, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 1489-1494
Date: 13 May 2014

Effects of distance on face recognition: implications for eyewitness identification

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Abstract

Eyewitnesses sometimes view faces from a distance, but little research has examined the accuracy of witnesses as a function of distance. The purpose to the present project is to examine the relationship between identification accuracy and distance under carefully controlled conditions. This is one of the first studies to examine the ability to recognize faces of strangers at a distance under free-field conditions. Participants viewed eight live human targets, displayed at one of six outdoor distances that varied between 5 and 40 yards. Participants were shown 16 photographs, 8 of the previously viewed targets and 8 of nonviewed foils that matched a verbal description of the target counterpart. Participants rated their confidence of having seen or not having seen each individual on an 8-point scale. Long distances were associated with poor recognition memory and response bias shifts.