Applied Cognitive Psychology

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Image‐size disparity reduces difference detection in face matching

Summary Face matching is the act of deciding whether two facial images depict the same person or different people. The real‐world face‐matching task of checking photo IDs typically occurs under conditions of image‐size disparity: A small picture is compared with a life‐size face. We examined the effect of image‐size disparity on face‐matching accuracy. In three experiments, subjects were presented with pairs of equivalently or disparately sized images that depicted the same person or different people. Subjects made same/different judgments and, in two experiments, also reported confidence. Difference detection was significantly poorer given disparate (versus equivalent) image size. Confidence was significantly higher when responses were correct versus incorrect. These findings held whether viewing and decision time was unlimited or limited. Our results raise the practical concern that image‐size disparity may undermine difference detection in ID checking, while also indicating that people have some insight into the accuracy of their face‐matching judgments.

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