When a serious crime is committed eyewitnesses/victims may be required to assist a police investigation by helping construct a facial composite. This is a visual representation of the perpetrator's face which can be used by the police to help generate leads in cases where there is no suspect readily apparent. Research to date has concentrated on 'system' variables, such as the comparison between different composite building systems and the ways in which they are implemented. Several facial composite systems and methods have been used by police forces each with limited success, and a considerable amount of research has been conducted with these systems in an attempt to modify and improve them.
Although computerised facial compositing systems address many of the technical problems associated with earlier systems, there are presently large individual differences in the likeness (to perpetrator) quality of facial composites produced by eyewitnesses. I am researching individual differences in cognitive style (verbaliser/visualiser and wholist/analytic) and how these may possibly relate to the task of face recall and facial composite construction. In addition to this, I am manipulating cognitive processing using the Navon task (Navon, 1977) prior to face encoding and preceding the face recall task to investigate whether there may be a common procedure which could be used by all eyewitnesses to facilitate the task of face recall.