Estimator Variables and Memory for Faces

Hannah Ryder*, Harriet M.J. Smith, Heather D. Flowe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter reviews the research on estimator variables that have the largest and most reliable effects on identification accuracy. It also reviews studies conducted in both laboratory and the field, as well as the results of archival studies of criminal cases. Archival investigations involve analysing data from existing case records, and allow researchers to examine the external validity of theories of eyewitness memory, as they represent situations found in actual criminal cases. Perpetrator distinctiveness and attractiveness research suggests that memory traces for faces are stronger for relatively more distinctive faces. Using a modification of the face recognition paradigm, Carlson showed that distinctive faces are better remembered. An own-ethnicity bias is evident in both face recognition and eyewitness paradigms. When assessing the influence of estimator variables on eyewitness identification, it is important to consider how well studies enable one to predict and assess the accuracy of lineup performance in real cases.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationForensic Facial Identification
Subtitle of host publicationTheory and Practice of Identification from Eyewitnesses, Composites and CCTV
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781118469538
ISBN (Print)9781118469118
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2015


  • Estimator variables
  • Eyewitness identification
  • Face recognition
  • Own-ethnicity bias
  • Perpetrator characteristics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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