15 Pages

The Impact of Character Attribution on Composite Production: A Real World Effect?

WithGraham Davies, Heidi Oldman

Facial memory draws upon both veridical detail and beliefs based upon prior knowledge and stereotypes. Theories of memory emphasise the selective nature of the process and the role that reconstruction, based on prior knowledge and experience. Memory for faces is unlikely to be exempt from processes. This raises the possibility that forensic tools like Photofit and Identikit, which demand witnesses provide complete recall of all facial features of a suspect’s face may draw on attributions and beliefs and real memories. The role of semantic judgements is not only of theoretical, but also practical interest. Witnesses to crime are frequently called upon to construct a facial composite of the appearance of a suspect, from a library of possible features. One of the reasons for poor quality of composites may be that they make demands upon a witness’ facial memory that exceed their recall abilities.