the forensic institute

Student Projects: The Forensic Institute Research Network (FIRN)

Cognitive style, processing sets and face recall

When a serious crime is committed eyewitnesses/victims may be required to assist a police investigation by constructing a facial composite. This is a visual representation of the perpetrator’s face which can be used by the police to help generate leads in cases where there is no suspect readily apparent. Research to date has mainly concentrated on ‘system variables’ such as the comparison between different composite building systems and the ways in which they are implemented. There are presently large individual differences in the likeness (to perpetrator) quality of facial composites produced by eyewitnesses.


I am researching ways to maximise the effectiveness of eyewitness face recall in two ways. Firstly are there stable individual differences in cognitive style which correlate with the ability to produce accurate facial composites? Secondly, is there a cognitive-based intervention which may benefit all eyewitnesses during composite construction? A correlational design was employed which explored the possible link between cognitive style scores and scores of composite quality. Work in progress uses the Navon task to induce featural or holistic processing in eyewitnesses. The Navon task significantly improves face recognition, but can it do the same for face recall?

Donna A Taylor & Mark Gardner. Department. of Psychology, University of Westminster

Dr. Mark Gardner

Oral presentations

Cognitive style, processing sets and face recall >>

The Scanning Kelvin Probe (SKP) for the visualisation of fingerprints on metal surfaces >>

Investigation into the user of parallel processing techniques to speed up file carving using Graphical Processing Units (GPUs) >>

Assessment of the validity of using pigs as a model for humans in forensic entomology studies >>

Chemical processes at fingerprint-metal interfaces >>

Determination of visual thresholds of image usefulness in fingerprint compression >>

The use of ion beams for forensic analysis >>

General purpose graphics processing units in security >>

An investigation into the use of dehydration as a method of preserving dna in biological forensic samples >>

Real world detection of cocaine at the picogram level in an urban environment >>