Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 252–257

Super-recognizers: People with extraordinary face recognition ability

Brief Reports

DOI: 10.3758/PBR.16.2.252

Cite this article as:
Russell, R., Duchaine, B. & Nakayama, K. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (2009) 16: 252. doi:10.3758/PBR.16.2.252


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.

Download to read the full article text

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyHarvard UniversityCambridge
  2. 2.University College LondonLondonEngland

Personalised recommendations