School of Human Sciences
Face and Voice Recognition Lab
Institute of Lifecourse Development
University of Greenwich
Updated: 11th November 2022
BBC1's Crimewatch Live with Prof. Josh Davis (24 March 2021)
Professor Josh P. Davis appeared on the BBC1 show, Crimewatch Live with top super-recogniser Police Community Support Officer Andy Pope (West Midlands Police) on Wednesday 24th March 2021 (Episode 13 of Series 13 no less). The pair were interviewed by Michelle Ackerley and discussed the positive impact of super-recognisers in the police and the possible emerging concept of ‘super-voice-recognisers’.
With collaborators from Strathclyde University and the University of Southampton, our team at the University of Greenwich recently revealed a correlation between unfamiliar face recognition ability and scores on unfamiliar and familiar voice recognition tests, with a substantial minority of super-face-recognisers also achieving exceptional scores at voice recognition. A paper on this topic has just been published in Applied Cognitive Psychology, first authored by PhD student Ryan Jenkins (University of Greenwich). Please find a summary of our findings here.
Andy Pope is probably the most successful super-recogniser in the world, after identifying almost 2,500 suspects. Please find more details about Andy and his astonishing achievements here.
What most fascinated us this week was that Andy scored 84 out of 88 on the Greenwich Voice Recognition Test – the highest score achieved so far. This further provides support for the idea that some super-face-recognisers may also be super-voice-recognisers. Watch this space.
November 2022 update: We have expanded the 88-trial version of the test. You can try it out here (headphones required). Please use a PC/laptop with either Google Chrome (Windows devices) or Safari (Apple devices) to complete this test. Using a mobile device (e.g., phone, tablet, iPad etc.) has often resulted in audio issues.
You can also find our fun face recognition test here.
A short clip showed Andy taking part in Dr Elena Belanova’s EEG research used to measure brain activity in super-recognisers and controls. You can read Elena’s journal article here, conducted when she was a PhD student of Prof. Josh Davis and Dr Trevor Thompson.
Here is a link to a Vimeo clip of the Crimewatch Live interview (Password = Crimewatch):
Andy states in his interview that he has even identified suspects wearing face masks. Our brand-new research with colleagues from the University of Huddersfield, the University of Lincoln, and the University of Reading, shows that face masks make facial identification and facial emotion recognition harder (having about the same impact as sunglasses), but that super-recognisers still outperform controls. Some facial emotions are particularly harder to discern when someone wears sunglasses. Different facial emotions are impacted by the wearing of face masks. Take a look at these recent findings here.
Other police forces around the world have asked their staff to take the same tests as Andy to identify him as a super-recogniser. Davis (2019) published a paper on brief testing procedures for police which have formed the foundation for such police work with super-recognisers. Please find the 2019 paper for direct download here, and a blog regarding super-recogniser police successes following riots in Germany here.
Belanova, E., Davis, J. P., & Thompson, T. (2018). Cognitive and neural markers of super-recognisers' face processing superiority and enhanced cross-age effect. Cortex, 98, 91-101. DOI:10.1016/j.cortex.2018.07.008 (Download pre-print here: https://bit.ly/bdtb2018)
Davis, J. P. (2019). The worldwide impact of identifying super-recognisers in police and business. The Cognitive Psychology Bulletin; Journal of the British Psychological Society: Cognitive Section, 4, 17-22. ISSN: 2397-2653. https://shop.bps.org.uk/the-cognitive-psychology-bulletin-issue-4-spring-2019
(pre-print: https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/2ybau )
Jenkins, R., Robertson, D. J., & Davis, J. P. (2021). Super-recognisers: some people excel at both face and voice recognition. The Conversation, 156817. https://theconversation.com/super-recognisers-some-people-excel-at-both-face-and-voice-recognition-156817
(Please note, with permission, the Conversation article has also been published in Policing Insight: https://policinginsight.com/features/innovation/super-recognisers-some-people-excel-at-both-face-and-voice-recognition/)
Jenkins, R., Tsermentseli, S., Monks, C. P., Robertson, D. J., Stevenage, S. V., Symons, A. E., & Davis, J. P. (2021). Are super‐face‐recognisers also super‐voice‐recognisers? Evidence from cross‐modal identification tasks. Applied Cognitive Psychology DOI:10.1002/acp.3813 (Pre-Print: https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/7xdp3 )
Noyes, E., Davis, J. P., Petrov, P., Gray, K. L. H., Ritchie, K. (2021). The effect of face masks and sunglasses on identity and expression recognition with super-recognizers and typical observers. Royal Society Open Science, 8, 201169. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.201169