Brief Reports

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 252-257

First online:

Super-recognizers: People with extraordinary face recognition ability

  • Richard RussellAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Harvard University Email author 
  • , Brad DuchaineAffiliated withUniversity College London
  • , Ken NakayamaAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Harvard University


We tested 4 people who claimed to have significantly better than ordinary face recognition ability. Exceptional ability was confirmed in each case. On two very different tests of face recognition, all 4 experimental subjects performed beyond the range of control subject performance. They also scored significantly better than average on a perceptual discrimination test with faces. This effect was larger with upright than with inverted faces, and the 4 subjects showed a larger “inversion effect” than did control subjects, who in turn showed a larger inversion effect than did developmental prosopagnosics. This result indicates an association between face recognition ability and the magnitude of the inversion effect. Overall, these “super-recognizers” are about as good at face recognition and perception as developmental prosopagnosics are bad. Our findings demonstrate the existence of people with exceptionally good face recognition ability and show that the range of face recognition and face perception ability is wider than has been previously acknowledged.