The Advantage of Low and Medium Attractiveness for Facial Composite Production from Modern Forensic Systems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • External authors:
  • Beth H. Richardson
  • Charity Brown
  • Priscilla Heard
  • Melanie Pitchford
  • Emma Portch
  • John E. Marsh
  • Raoul Bell
  • Cristina Fodarella
  • Sarah Ashley Taylor
  • Mikaela Worthington
  • Lauren Ellison
  • Philippa Charters
  • Dannii Green
  • Simra Minahil
  • Charlie D. Frowd


Recognition following long delays is superior for highly attractive and highly unattractive faces (cf. medium-attractive faces). In the current work, we investigated participants’ ability to recreate from memory faces of low, medium, and high physical attractiveness. In Experiment 1, participants constructed composites of familiar (celebrity) faces using the holistic EvoFIT system. When controlling for other variables that may influence face recognition (memorability, familiarity, likeability, and age), correct naming and ratings of likeness were superior for composites of low attractiveness targets. Experiment 2 replicated this design using the feature-based PRO-fit system, revealing superiority (by composite naming and ratings of likeness) for medium attractiveness. In Experiment 3, participants constructed composites of unfamiliar faces after a forensically relevant delay of 1 day. Using ratings of likeness as a measure of composite effectiveness, these same effects were observed for EvoFIT and PRO-fit. The work demonstrates the importance of attractiveness for method of composite face construction.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)381-395
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2020