An evaluation of morphed composites constructed in a criminal investigation

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Frowd, C.D., Bruce, V., Storås, K., Spick, P., Hancock, P.J.B. (2006). An evaluation of morphed composites constructed in a criminal investigation. In: 16th Conference of the European Association of Psychology and Law.



Facial composites are pictures of criminal faces normally produced from witnesses and victims of serious crime. Unfortunately, in spite of enhancements made to improve their quality, composites remain quite hard to recognise. Recent research has suggested however that a better representation of a target face can be obtained by constructing more than one composite of a face and then combining the individual attempts into a single morphed image. In the current work, we explore whether this morphing technique would generalise to composites constructed in a criminal investigation. To do this, three composites of an assailant produced by a single witness were morphed together and then evaluated. The result of four experiments suggested that the quality of the morphed image tended to be at least as good as the best individual composite, and in one task, that of similarity ratings with the hair occluded, the morph was superior. The data therefore provide further support for the suggestion that morphing would be a good procedure to use in a police investigation.

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