Vice article on Kelly Hearsey - working super-recogniser
Professor Josh P Davis
School of Human Sciences
Institute of Lifecourse Development
University of Greenwich
London SE10 9LS
Very interesting article about super-recogniser Kelly Hearsey in Vice who took the entire battery of over 10 University of Greenwich super-recogniser tests in 2018 (took about 5 hours) for a job with Super-Recognisers International (http://superrecognisersinternational.com/) and to become a licensee of the Association of Super-Recognisers (https://www.associationofsuperrecognisers.org/).
(Note – she also took on the job tests, received training from the Association and gained security qualifications).
My only issue about the article is that like many it states super-recognisers recognise 80% of faces to controls 20% - not sure where this statistic came from (for instance, for how long? And, out of how many?) and I have never seen anything empirical in support.
It seems to be a rather random ‘fake statistic’ that has gathered its own self-sustaining momentum in the media.
Kelly has since assisted police with murder investigations and at helping security at venues. I spend a lot of time trying to encourage other police and security organisations to employ people like Kelly who is clearly making a real difference. It can be expensive to deploy current police officers to such specialist roles and most organisations and smaller police forces will not have the resources. Therefore, it is very clear that a business such as Super-Recognisers International who do have ex-police and security-cleared staff on their books can fulfil a vital role. Indeed, they have been called in to help with many investigations.
Davis, J. P., & Robertson, D. (2020). Capitalizing on the super-recognition advantage: A powerful, but underutilized, tool for policing and national security agencies. Journal of the Homeland Defense & Security Information Analysis Centre, 7(1), 20-25. https://www.hdiac.org/journal-issue/operational-energy-powering-military-operations-to-achieve-national-defense-strategy-objectives/
Kelly is one of the highest scorers ever to take our full battery of tests (she may even be THE top scorer – as we have made minor tweaks to the tests since then) and she had no previous experience in policing.
Can you beat Kelly? The first step is to take our fun 14-trial “Could you be a Super-Recogniser Test”.
If you keep scoring exceptionally highly on all the tests you will get an invite to apply for training to become a licensee of the Association of Super-Recognisers. It is hard work and takes a long time – but replicates the day-to-day job of those who work in this field. You need exceptional face recognition ability, sustained concentration, and the ability to attend to the job in hand despite distractions.
More details of some of the tests can be found here: -
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. (Download here: https://bit.ly/davisjp2019)