Evolving and combining facial composites: Between-witness and within-witness morphs compared.

Valentine, Tim; Davis, Josh P.; Thorner, Kate; Solomon, Chris and Gibson, Stuart. 2010. Evolving and combining facial composites: Between-witness and within-witness morphs compared. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 16(1), pp. 72-86. ISSN 1076-898X [Article]

No full text available

Abstract or Description

Student participant-witnesses produced 4 composites of unfamiliar faces with a system that uses a genetic algorithm to evolve appearance of artificial faces. Morphs of 4 composites produced by different witnesses (between-witness morphs) were judged better likenesses (Experiment 1) and were more frequently named (Experiment 2) by participants who were familiar with the target actors than were morphs of 4 composites produced by a single witness (within-witness morphs). Within-witness morphs were judged better likenesses and more frequently named than the best or the first-produced individual composites. The same results for likeness judgments were observed after possible artifacts in the comparison of between- and within-witness morphs were eliminated (Experiment 3). Experiment 4 showed that both internal and external features were better represented in morphs than in the original composites, although the representation of internal features improved more. The results suggest that morphing improves the representation of faces by reducing random error. Between-witness morphs yield more benefit than within-witness morphs by reducing consistent but idiosyncratic errors of individual witnesses. The experiments provide the first demonstration of an advantage for within-witness morphs produced using a single system. Experiment 2 provides the first demonstration of a reliable advantage for between-witness morphs in the most forensically relevant task: naming a composite of a familiar person produced by a witness who was unfamiliar with the target. Morphing would enhance the recognition of facial composites of criminals. Within-witness morphing provides a methodology for use in crimes in which the victim is the only witness.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Research Office > REF2014


March 2010Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

30 Mar 2011 11:04

Last Modified:

04 Jul 2017 13:06

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



Edit Record Edit Record (login required)