Kramer, R. S. S., Mohamed, S., & Hardy, S. C. (2019). Unfamiliar face matching with driving licence and passport photographs. Perception, 48(2), 175-184.

Matching two different images of an unfamiliar face is difficult, although we rely on this process every day when proving our identity. Although previous work with laboratory photosets has shown that performance is error-prone, few studies have focussed on how accurately people carry out this matching task using photographs taken from official forms of identification. In Experiment 1, participants matched high-resolution, colour face photos with current UK driving licence photos of the same group of people in a sorting task. Averaging 19 mistaken pairings out of 30, our results showed that this task was both difficult and error-prone. In Experiment 2, high-resolution photographs were paired with either driving licence or passport photographs in a typical pairwise matching paradigm. We found no difference in performance levels for the two types of ID image, with both producing unacceptable levels of accuracy (around 75%–79% correct). The current work benefits from increased ecological validity and provides a clear demonstration that these forms of official identification are ineffective and alternatives should be considered.

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