Memory & Cognition

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 865–876 | Cite as

Unfamiliar faces are not faces: Evidence from a matching task

  • Ahmed M. Megreya
  • A. Mike BurtonEmail author


It is difficult to match two images of the same unfamiliar face, even under good conditions. Here, we show that there are large individual differences on unfamiliar face matching. Initially, we tried to predict these using tests of visual short-term memory, cognitive style, and perceptual speed. Moderate correlations were produced by various components of these tests. In three other experiments, we found very strong correlations between face matching and inverted face matching on the same test. Finally, we examined potential associations between familiar and unfamiliar face processing. Strong correlations were found between familiar and unfamiliar face processing, but only when the familiar faces were inverted. We conclude that unfamiliar faces are processed for identity in a qualitatively different way than are familiar faces.


Face Recognition Face Processing Target Face Perceptual Speed Face Match 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowScotland

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