Thesis

Age and gender similarities in face recognition abilities

The ability to accurately identify a face is critical for eyewitnesses. Police and juries rely on this information for lineups and court testimonies. Differences across ages and between the genders are of particular interest. To examine possible age and gender differences, 180 participants individually viewed a presentation of 20 different young adult male faces. This was followed by a distracter task and then pairs of altered faces were shown in an attempt to confuse the participants. Finally, participants were shown 10 pairs of faces that included one original and one altered in each pair, and then they were asked to select the original. Participants were scored based on the number of faces they correctly recognized out of 10. I hypothesized that young adults would outperform the children and older adults, and males would outperform females across all age groups, as a result of age and gender biases that were present in the photos. Both an age and gender bias have appeared in the literature reflecting that people are more accurate when the face they are recalling is of the same age and gender. Contrary to the hypotheses, a factorial ANOVA revealed no significant difference between the children, young adults, and older adults. Gender differences were not found either, as males and females performed equally well. Thus, both of the hypotheses were not supported. This could mean that there are no gender or age differences; alternatively there could have been methodological problems that resulted in these findings. Directions for future research are suggested. Keywords: Face Recognition, Gender Differences, Age Differences

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