A Change of Face: New Approaches to Measuring Face Recognition and Identification

A change in hairstyle, lighting, or even facial expression may alter a person’s appearance so drastically that they look like someone else. Scientists are now developing face-recognition measures that account for these variations..

image description
Volume 30, Issue7September 2017

Presidential Column

Suparna Rajaram
Suparna Rajaram
Stony Brook University, The State University of New York
APS President 2017 - 2018
All columns

In this Issue:
Growing Up With APS

About the Observer

Published 6 times per year by the Association for Psychological Science, the Observer educates and informs on matters affecting the research, academic, and applied disciplines of psychology; promotes the scientific values of APS members; reports on issues of international interest to the psychological science community; and provides a vehicle for the dissemination on information about APS.

APS members receive online and print subscriptions to the Observer, including the online archive going back to 1988. The print edition is a member-only benefit.

Looking to connect with the Observer? Visit our Contact the Editor page to discuss writing for us and our Advertising page for sponsorship opportunities. If you have questions about your subscription, please email APS@psychologicalscience.org.

Latest Under the Cortex Podcast

Trending Topics >


  • This is a photo of a piece of paper torn to reveal the phrase "uncover the facts"

    Myths and Misinformation

    How does misinformation spread and how do we combat it? Psychological science sheds light on the mechanisms underlying misinformation and ‘fake news.’

Featured


  • Suparna Rajaram

    Suparna Rajaram is the new APS President. Susan Goldin-Meadow becomes Immediate Past President. Barbara G. Tversky becomes President-Elect, and Stacey Sinclair and Howard M. Weiss begin 3-year terms as Members-at-Large.

  • Scientists studying the human limitations of face perception have also uncovered a population of people with a remarkable knack for placing a face — a skill now being tapped by police in London.

Up Front


  • Growing Up With APS

    Everyone has at least one story. -Maya Angelou I came to the United States in 1986 to join Purdue University’s graduate program in cognitive psychology. As I prepared for this relocation, the teasing refrain in my family was “from India to Indiana,” bridging the 8,000 some miles between the two locations with a single syllable. I had just completed my first graduate degree in psychology, and had come across Anne Treisman’s feature-integration theory of attention. I was blown away. I wanted to do experiments. Traveling across continents can be a challenging prospect, although I did have some experience with travel within country borders. I grew up first in Central India and then spent 8 years in South India. As a result, I had become somewhat accustomed to big changes, traversing very different languages and cultures. The peripatetic aspect of my early life repeated itself in the United States. I started my graduate training at Purdue, moved to Rice University in Houston to complete my PhD, and then to Philadelphia for my postdoctoral work at Temple Medical School. Perhaps as a fitting counterbalance, I have been at Stony Brook University for almost 25 years now!

  • Identifying the Super-Recognizers

    Scientists studying the human limitations of face perception have also uncovered a population of people with a remarkable knack for placing a face — a skill now being tapped by police in London.

Practice


  • Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science

    Aimed at integrating cutting-edge psychological science into the classroom, Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science offers advice and how-to guidance about teaching a particular area of research or topic in psychological science that has been the focus of an article in the APS journal Current Directions in Psychological Science. Current Directions is a peer-reviewed bimonthly journal featuring reviews by leading experts covering all of scientific psychology and its applications and allowing readers to stay apprised of important developments across subfields beyond their areas of expertise. Its articles are written to be accessible to nonexperts, making them ideally suited for use in the classroom. Visit the column for supplementary components, including classroom activities and demonstrations. Visit David G. Myers at his blog “Talk Psych”.

First Person


  • ‘I Can’t Do This’

    It’s a little hard to tell what’s a failure and what’s just something that is shifting your life in a whole new direction. -Pema Chodron “I can’t do this.” Almost every graduate student experiences that moment — or hour or week or month or year — when she questions her ability to succeed in graduate school and beyond. We are constantly reminded that rejection is the norm, and since many of us are over-achievers, this can sting and lead to the feeling that we just don’t “belong here.” Here’s the worst part: We don’t talk about it. Everyone is trying to make it seem like they have everything under control and never feel overwhelmed or defeated. This leads to even more feelings of inadequacy when you feel like a failure, because you think you are alone. Guess what? You are not!

More From This Issue


  • Estes Fund Grants Aim to Raise Awareness of Computational Tools

    The William K. and Katherine W. Estes Fund, which was created to honor the legacy of influential psychological scientist Bill Estes, has awarded three grants for programs focused on increasing awareness of how computational tools, models, and data collection can improve all areas of psychological science. Overseen jointly by APS and the Psychonomic Society, the Fund supports summer schools and workshops offering training in mathematical and computational modeling for PhD students, postdocs, and advanced researchers. It also promotes the teaching and practice of rigorous methodology in experimental and quantitative psychological science.

  • James Herbert Named President of University of New England

    Clinical psychological scientist and APS Fellow James Herbert of Drexel University has been named the next president of The University of New England, the largest private university in Maine. Herbert is replacing Danielle Ripich, who in 2016 announced her intention to step down this year. Herbert’s research focuses on cognitive behavior therapy; anxiety, mood, and eating disorders; remote Internet-based treatment, and the promotion of evidence-based practice in mental health care. He is known internationally for his writings on pseudoscience in mental health.

  • Sian Beilock Named President of Barnard College

    Barnard College has named APS Fellow Sian L. Beilock as its new president. Beilock, an expert on how people learn and perform at their best, particularly under stress, leaves her post as the Stella M. Rowley Professor of Psychology and an Executive Vice Provost at the University of Chicago. Beilock was tapped as president of the women’s liberal arts college at Columbia University following a 5-month search process, according to the school’s Board of Trustees. She replaces Debora L. Spar, who left Barnard earlier this year and is now president of Lincoln Center.

  • New Book

    Careful: A User’s Guide to Our Injury-Prone Minds by Steve Casner; Penguin Random House, May 23, 2017.

  • Suparna Rajaram

    The 2017-2018 APS Board

    Suparna Rajaram is the new APS President. Susan Goldin-Meadow becomes Immediate Past President. Barbara G. Tversky becomes President-Elect, and Stacey Sinclair and Howard M. Weiss begin 3-year terms as Members-at-Large.

  • Behavior Research at the Root of Cattell Fund Projects

    The 2017–2018 James McKeen Cattell Fund Fellowships have been awarded to APS Fellow Koraly Perez-Edgar, Melissa Glenn, Paula Niedenthal, and Kiran Soma. Presented in partnership with APS, the fellowships allow recipients to extend their sabbatical periods from one semester to a full year. Here, in their own words, are the projects the three researchers plan to pursue during their sabbaticals. Koraly Perez-Edgar Pennsylvania State University I am a developmental psychologist studying trajectories that place children at increased risk for anxiety, with a particular focus on risk due to temperamental traits.

  • An Interview With CRFP’s President

    The Observer talked with APS Fellow John C. Cavanaugh about his insights into bridging academic and industry careers in psychological science. The magazine also profiled three alumni of the Consortium Research Fellows Program. APS: Your career has featured an impressive trajectory from research to academic administration to education policy. What are your observations after taking those steps? JC: All three are intertwined in the sense that research, academic administration, and policy creation involve asking very good, insightful questions, then collecting and analyzing data to address those questions. Based on the evidence, decisions are made about how to proceed next.

  • CRFP Alumni in Their Own Words

    Elizabeth Salmon is a postdoctoral Consortium Research Fellow working in the Personnel Assessment Research Unit (PARU) within the US Army Research Institute at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. PARU researchers focus on developing and evaluating assignment measures and performance assessments for soldiers in the US Army. In a team with other psychological scientists, Salmon’s work centers on updating attitudinal and behavioral measures included in the Tailored Adaptive Personality Assessment System, “an initial entry selection test that measures personality and temperament,” she explains.

  • The Consortium Research Fellows Program as a Career-Launching Opportunity

    What if students in psychological science could access a specialized, high-level federal research facility where they would be employed and could conduct thesis/dissertation research and other research projects, as well as have opportunities to start their careers in the same or a related setting? What if they could do this all while accruing invaluable experience by working with some of the world’s top scientists? What if postdocs and faculty had similar opportunities? That is exactly what is available through the Consortium Research Fellows Program (CRFP) operated by the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area.

  • Scientists Share How Faces Guide and Reflect Our Lives

    A special issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science brings together innovative research and theory in psychological science, computer science, neuroscience, and related fields, illuminating the myriad ways in which face perception infuses how we think and behave.

  • Injecting Science Into Police Lineups

    The same experimental standards that apply to scientific research could also be applied to police lineups to improve the accuracy of eyewitness identifications, says APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow Gary L. Wells.