Do people have insight into their face recognition abilities?

Romina Palermo, Bruno Rossion, Gillian Rhodes, Renaud Laguesse, Tolga Tez, Bronwyn Hall, Andrea Albonico, Manuela Malaspina, Roberta Daini, Jessica Irons, Shahd Al-Janabi, Libby C. Taylor, Davide Rivolta, Elinor McKone

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81 Citations (Scopus)
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Diagnosis of developmental or congenital prosopagnosia (CP) involves self-report of everyday face recognition difficulties, which are corroborated with poor performance on behavioural tests. This approach requires accurate self-evaluation. We examine the extent to which typical adults have insight into their face recognition abilities across four experiments involving nearly 300 participants. The experiments used five tests of face recognition ability: two that tap into the ability to learn and recognize previously unfamiliar faces [the Cambridge Face Memory Test, CFMT; Duchaine, B., & Nakayama, K. (2006). The Cambridge Face Memory Test: Results for neurologically intact individuals and an investigation of its validity using inverted face stimuli and prosopagnosic participants. Neuropsychologia, 44(4), 576–585. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2005.07.001; and a newly devised test based on the CFMT but where the study phases involve watching short movies rather than viewing static faces—the CFMT-Films] and three that tap face matching [Benton Facial Recognition Test, BFRT; Benton, A., Sivan, A., Hamsher, K., Varney, N., & Spreen, O. (1983). Contribution to neuropsychological assessment. New York: Oxford University Press; and two recently devised sequential face matching tests]. Self-reported ability was measured with the 15-item Kennerknecht et al. questionnaire [Kennerknecht, I., Ho, N. Y., & Wong, V. C. (2008). Prevalence of hereditary prosopagnosia (HPA) in Hong Kong Chinese population. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A, 146A(22), 2863–2870. doi:10.1002/ajmg.a.32552]; two single-item questions assessing face recognition ability; and a new 77-item meta-cognition questionnaire. Overall, we find that adults with typical face recognition abilities have only modest insight into their ability to recognize faces on behavioural tests. In a fifth experiment, we assess self-reported face recognition ability in people with CP and find that some people who expect to perform poorly on behavioural tests of face recognition do indeed perform poorly. However, it is not yet clear whether individuals within this group of poor performers have greater levels of insight (i.e., into their degree of impairment) than those with more typical levels of performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-233
Number of pages16
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


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