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Title: Individual differences in recognition memory for faces
Author: Chiroro, Patrick
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 1994
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Contemporary research on human memory has tended to disregard individual differences (Eysenck, 1977, 1983; Sternberg & French, 1990). However, there seems to be no empirical justification for this practice, especially in experimental situations where the stimuli that are used are 'socially relevant'. Human faces constitute one such category. Although there is strong evidence which suggests that people differ substantially in their ability to recognise faces in laboratory experiments (Baddeley & Woodhead, 1983) and in everyday situations (Schweich, van der Linden, Bredart, Bruyer, Neils & Schills, 1991), the sources of these differences are not clearly understood at present. In this thesis, individual differences in recognition memory for faces were examined using standard laboratory experimental techniques. Part I of this thesis consists of four chapters. Chapter One provides a general introduction to face recognition research. In Chapter Two, past research on individual differences in face recognition is described and evaluated. In Chapter Three. the theoretical implications of research on the effects of orientation, race of face and face distinctiveness are discussed. Experimental and statistical techniques that are used in the present thesis are summarised in Chapter Four. In Part II, three experiments which investigated the effect of individual differences in spatial ability on recognition of pictures, faces and words are reported. Among other things, these experiments showed that while individual differences in spatial ability did not significantly affect subjects' recognition of high-imagery words, high spatial ability subjects recognised faces and pictures more accurately and more quickly than did low spatial ability subjects. The theoretical implications of these results are discussed. Part III consists of an experiment in which differences in recognition of male and female faces by adolescent male and female subjects aged 11 years, 12 years and 13 years were investigated across two delay conditions. This experiment provided partial support for a developmental dip in recognition of faces among 12-year olds and also showed an own-sex bias in face recognition among female subjects. Theoretical accounts for these effects are proposed. In Part IV, a cross-cultural study in which black-African and white-British subjects who had different degrees of previous contact with faces of the opposite race were tested for their recognition of distinctive and typical own-race and other-race faces is reported. This experiment provided evidence which supported the differential-experience hypothesis of the own-race bias in face recognition among the African subjects and also suggested that the effect of face distinctiveness in recognition of faces might be a product of learning the defining characteristics of a given population of faces. In Part V, three experiments which explored differences between good and poor face recognisers are reported and discussed. These experiments raised some important methodological issues regarding the generalisability of the notion of 'face recognition ability' in situations where the faces to be recognised are shown in different views, in different facial expressions and in different orientations between study and test. These experiments also showed that subjects who were good in their recognition of faces following a change in view were significantly more accurate in their recognition of upsidedown faces than were subjects who had initially shown poor recognition of faces in different views. However. there were no significant differences between these two groups of subjects in their ability to recognise faces that were shown in different facial expressions between study and test. It is argued that these results suggest that recognition of faces following a change in facial expression may involve the creation and use of expression-independent representations of the face while recognition of faces following a change in view or orientation may both involve the creation and use of view-independent representations of faces. General conclusions and suggestions for future experimental work are outlined in Part
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Psychology Psychology