Portrait of Dr Markus Bindemann

Dr Markus Bindemann

Reader in Psychology


Dr Markus Bindemann obtained a BSc in Psychology from the University of Stirling in 2001, followed by a PhD at the University of Glasgow in 2004. After several postdoctoral positions, he joined the School of Psychology at the University of Kent in January 2010. 

Markus has specific expertise in face and person perception and has published extensively in international journals of psychology. He has also edited special issues on face perception for Applied Cognitive Psychology (2013, Vol 27, Issue 6; with Bob Johnston), Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (2017, Vol 70, Issue 5; with Bob Johnston), and Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications (2018, see www.springeropen.com/collections/IDFP; with Vicki Bruce and Karen Lander). His 2017 book Face Processing: Systems, Disorders and Cultural Differences (with Ahmed Megreya) featured contributions from scientists around the world and was nominated for the Ursula Gielen Global Psychology Book Award. 

He currently serves as Associate Editor for the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology and on the editorial board of the Journal of Cognitive Psychology

Zoom links for office hours:
Monday 14.00-15.00
Tuesday 10.00-11.00

Research interests

Dr Bindemann's research focuses on visual perception problems in Cognitive Psychology, such as forensic face matching, eyewitness identification, and person detection in natural scenes. In collaboration with colleagues from other fields, he also researches the potential of pupillary response for the measurement of deviant sexual interest, and species identification in biodiversity conservation. His research features cutting-edge techniques such as eye-tracking, remote-controlled drones, and virtual reality.

Key publications

  • Lander, K., Bruce, V., & Bindemann, M. (2018). Use-inspired basic research on individual differences in face identification: Implications for criminal investigation and security. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 3:26, 1-13.doi:10.1186/s41235-018-0115-
  • Fysh, M.C., & Bindemann, M. (2018). The Kent Face Matching Test. British Journal of Psychology, 109, 219-231.doi:10.1111/bjop.12260
  • Bindemann, M., Fysh, M.C., Sage, S., Douglas, K., & Tummon, H. (2017). Person identification from aerial footage by a remote-controlled drone. Scientific Reports, 7, 13629:1-10doi:10.1038/s41598-017-14026-3
  • Attard-Johnson, J., & Bindemann, M. (2017). Sex-specific but not sexually explicit: Pupillary responses to portraits of nude and dressed adults. Royal Society Open Science, 4:160963. doi:10.1098/rsos.160963

The Kent Face Matching Test

Markus also developed the Kent Face Matching Test (KFMT), which is available as a research tool for researchers to download at https://www.kent.ac.uk/school-of-psychology/kentfacematch/index.html

Its corresponding paper can be found at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/bjop.12260


Convenor and Lecturer

  • SP853 The Psychology of Eyewitness Testimony


  • SP827 Current Issues in Cognitive Psychology and Neuropsychology
  • SP847 Forensic Cognition: Theory, Research and Practice


Markus has an extensive record of successful PhD supervision. His past and current students, for whom he was or is the primary supervisor in Psychology, are listed below.

He welcomes enquiries about studying for a PhD under his supervision from exceptional students whose research interests relate to his own.

Past research students

  • Hamood Alenezi (Saudi Arabia Government Scholarship, 2011-2014)
  • Andrew Russ (Kent GTA Scholarship, 2011-2015)
  • Alejandro Estudillo (Kent GTA Scholarship, 2012-2015)
  • Kaewmart Pongakkasira, (Thai Royal Government Scholarship, 2012-2015)
  • Janice Attard (Kent GTA Scholarship, 2013-2016)
  • Gail Austen (Kent 50th Anniversary Scholarship, 2013-2017)
  • Matt Fysh (Kent GTA Scholarship, 2014-2017)
  • Emma Garcia (Kent GTA Scholarship, 2015-2018)
  • Natalie Gentry (ESRC South East DTC funding, 2015-2019)
  • Hannah Tummon (ESRC South East DTC funding, 2016-2019)

Current research students

  • Jacky Claydon (Kent GTA Scholarship, 2019-present)
  • Leia Brasnell (ESRC SeNSS 1+3 funding, 2019-present)
  • Alice Nevard (Kent GTA Scholarship, 2020-present)  


Grants and awards

2019-22Leverhulme Trust Research Grant
‘Face detection by humans’. With Rob Jenkins, University of York, UK.
2019-22ESRC Research Grant
'Person identification at passport control within realistic context'. With Mike Burton and Cade McCall, University of York, UK.
2018-19British Academy Visiting Fellowship
'The construct validity of forensic face-matching ability'. With Andrea Hildebrandt, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt Universitaet, Germany.
2017University of Guelph-Humber Research Grant Fund 
'Critical examination of configural processing in familiar face recognition'. With Adam Sandford, University of Guelph-Humber, Canada.
$6,507 (Canadian)
2016-17British Academy UK's International Challenges Grant
'Does Brexit trigger racism? An experiment among British and European residents in the UK'. With Fernanda Lopez, University of Kent.
2016-17Faculty Research Fund, University of Kent
'Avoidance of eye-contact in social anxiety: An eye-tracking study'. With Lydia Kearney, University of Kent.
2016-17Faculty Research Fund, University of Kent
'The eyes have it: Pupillary response as a measure of self-identification for forensic settings'. With Amir-Homayoun Javadi, University of Kent.
2013Faculty Internationalisation Fund, University of Kent
UG and PG recruitment in Norway.
2013Research Seed Fund, University of Kent
'The Kent Face Matching Test'.
2012National Organisation for the Treatment of Abusers (NOTA) Research Grant
'Comparing multiple indirect measures of sexual interest with an implicit but direct eye-tracking and pupil dilation paradigm'. With Caolite Ó Ciardha, University of Kent.
2011Faculty Small Grant, University of Kent
'Recognising different photo-ID cards of the same person'.
2009Research Promotion Fund, University of Essex
'Individual variation and observer consistency in unfamiliar face identification'.
2009Knowledge Transfer Innovation Fund, University of Essex
'Establishing Café Scientifique'.
2007-09ESRC research grant
'Human face detection in natural scenes'. With Mike Burton, University of Glasgow, UK.
2007Wellcome Trust Value in People (VIP) Award
'Controlling attention to faces'.
2001ESRC Postgraduate Studentship
'The role of attention in face processing'. University of Glasgow, UK.
2016-19ESRC +3 Studentship, Hannah Tummon.£56,185
2015-18ESRC +3 Studentship, Natalie Gentry.£55,274
2012EPS Undergraduate Research Bursary 
'Gaze-contingent elimination of attention biases in smokers'. With Julien LeBlond.
2012BPS Undergraduate Research Assistantship
'Can a gaze-contingent eye-tracking paradigm reverse undesirable attention biases in smokers?'. With Julien LeBlond.
2011-15Thai Royal Government 1+3 Studentship, Kaewmart Pongakkasira.£102,094
2010-14Saudi Arabia Government 1+3 Studentship, Hamood Alenezi.£100,996
2010EPS Undergraduate Research Bursary
'Examining the two-perpetrator disadvantage in eyewitness identification'. With Katherine Gillatt.
2008EPS Undergraduate Research Bursary
'Interactions of eye-gaze and facial expression'. With Nicola Forsberg.

Professional memberships

  • British Psychological Society (BPS)
  • BPS - Cognitive Section
  • Experimental Psychology Society (EPS)


Showing 50 of 138 total publications in the Kent Academic Repository. View all publications.


  • Fox, E., & Bindemann, M. (2020). Individual differences in visual acuity and face matching ability. Applied Cognitive Psychology. doi:10.1002/acp.3682
    The visual acuity of the eyes varies outside the range of normal vision, requiring corrective lenses, but also within the normal range. This study investigated whether both types of variation relate to individual differences in face‐identity matching, considering this applied task requires perception of detail. Across two experiments, face‐matching accuracy correlated with variation in acuity when this fell outside the normal range of vision and was uncorrected with glasses or contact lenses. In contrast, variation in visual acuity within the normal range did not affect face‐matching accuracy, whereas matching accuracy at a given level of acuity could vary substantially. These results indicate that visual acuity is only a problem for occupations performing face‐identity matching when below‐normal acuity is not diagnosed or adequately corrected. In turn, these findings suggest that variation in acuity within the normal range is not a contributing factor to individual differences in face matching accuracy.
  • Sandford, A., & Bindemann, M. (2020). Discrimination and recognition of faces with changed configuration. Memory & Cognition, 48, 287-298. doi:10.3758/s13421-019-01010-7
    Subtle metric differences in facial configuration, such as between-person variation in the distances between the eyes, have been used widely in psychology to explain face recognition. However, these studies of configuration have typically utilized unfamiliar faces rather than the familiar faces that the process of recognition ultimately seeks to explain. This study investigates whether face recognition relies on the metric information presumed in configural theory, by manipulating the interocular distance in both unfamiliar and familiar faces. In Experiment 1, observers were asked to detect which face in a pair was presented with its configuration intact. In Experiment 2, this discrimination task was repeated with faces presented individually, and observers were also asked to make familiarity categorizations to the same stimuli. In both experiments, familiarity determined detection of faces in their original configuration, and also enhanced identity categorization in Experiment 2. However, discrimination of configuration was generally low. In turn, recognition accuracy was generally high irrespective of configuration condition. Moreover, observers most sensitive to configuration during discrimination did not appear to rely on this information for recognition of familiar faces. These results demonstrate that configuration theory provides limited explanatory power for the recognition of familiar faces.
  • Gentry, N., & Bindemann, M. (2019). Examples Improve Facial Identity Comparison. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 8, 376-385. doi:doi.org/10.1016/j.jarmac.2019.06.002
    Everyday security tasks, such as passport control, require comparison of peoples’ faces with portrait photographs to assert their identities. These facial comparisons can be very difficult, even for experienced personnel who conduct these identifications regularly. This study investigated whether the provision of defined examples, labelled clearly as identity matches or mismatches, improves the accuracy of facial image comparison. Examples increased accuracy compared to a no-examples control group, especially in individuals who were initially least good at performing facial comparisons. This benefit persisted after examples were withdrawn. We suggest that people have inherently poor criteria for making facial comparisons due to the many ways in which faces can vary. Provision of examples might improve accuracy by supplying criteria for facial comparison that participants would otherwise have to deduce by their own judgement.
  • Robertson, D., & Bindemann, M. (2019). Consolidation, wider reflection, and policy: Response to Super-recognisers: from the lab to the world and back again. British Journal of Psychology, 110, 489-491. doi:10.1111/bjop.12393
    Here, David Robertson and Markus Bindemann respond to a recent BJP Target Article on ‘super-recognisers’ (SRs). They outline the need to consider human factors that could influence SR performance after selection and the need for a co-ordinated effort to ensure best practice in the implementation of SRs in applied contexts.
  • Tummon, H., Allen, J., & Bindemann, M. (2019). Facial Identification at a Virtual Reality Airport. I-Perception, 10, 204166951986307. doi:10.1177/2041669519863077
    Person identification at airports requires the comparison of a passport photograph with its bearer. In psychology, this process is typically studied with static pairs of face photographs that require identity-match (same person shown) versus mismatch (two different people) decisions, but this approach provides a limited proxy for studying how environment and social interaction factors affect this task. In this study, we explore the feasibility of virtual reality (VR) as a solution to this problem, by examining the identity matching of avatars in a VR airport. We show that facial photographs of real people can be rendered into VR avatars in a manner that preserves image and identity information (Experiments 1 to 3). We then show that identity matching of avatar pairs reflects similar cognitive processes to the matching of face photographs (Experiments 4 and 5). This pattern holds when avatar matching is assessed in a VR airport (Experiments 6 and 7). These findings demonstrate the feasibility of VR as a new method for investigating face matching in complex environments.
  • Robertson, D., Fysh, M., & Bindemann, M. (2019). Facial identity verification: Five challenges facing practitioners. Keesing Journal of Documents & Identity, June, 3-8.
    The scientific study of facial identification in Psychology is of practical relevance to security operations and police investigations in which establishing the identity of an unfamiliar person is of critical importance. At border control checkpoints, for example, officials compare the face of each traveler to their corresponding passport photograph. A key security threat in these settings is the occurrence of identity mismatches (aka “impostors”), who attempt to evade detection by using stolen or borrowed passports. Recently, impostors have also begun utilizing more sophisticated methods of hiding their identity. In this short review, we outline five of the key challenges for facial identification that are of current relevance to applied security settings, with a focus on how psychological science can be instrumental in overcoming the difficulties that accompany this task.
  • Kelly, D., Duarte, S., Meary, D., Bindemann, M., & Pascalis, O. (2019). Infants rapidly detect human faces in complex naturalistic visual scenes. Developmental Science, 22. doi:10.1111/desc.12829
    Infants respond preferentially to faces and face‐like stimuli from birth, but past research has typically presented faces in isolation or amongst an artificial array of competing objects. In the current study infants aged 3‐ to 12‐months viewed a series of complex visual scenes; half of the scenes contained a person, the other half did not. Infants rapidly detected and oriented to faces in scenes even when they were not visually salient. Although a clear developmental improvement was observed in face detection and interest, all infants displayed sensitivity to the presence of a person in a scene, by displaying eye movements that differed quantifiably across a range of measures when viewing scenes that either did or did not contain a person. We argue that infant's face detection capabilities are ostensibly ‘better’ with naturalistic stimuli and artificial array presentations used in previous studies have underestimated performance.
  • Attard-Johnson, J., Ó Ciardha, C., & Bindemann, M. (2019). Comparing Methods for Analysis of Pupillary Response. Behavior Research Methods, 51, 83-95. doi:10.3758/s13428-018-1108-6
    Changes in eye-pupil size index a range of cognitive processes. However, variation exists in the protocols to analyse such data in the psychological literature. This raises the question of whether different approaches to pupillary response data influence the outcome of its analysis. To address this question, four methods of analysis were compared, using pupillary responses to sexually appetitive visual content as example data. These methods comprised analysis of unadjusted (raw) pupillary response data, z-scored data, percentage change data, and data transformed by a pre-stimulus baseline correction. Across two experiments, these methods yielded near-identical outcomes, leading to similar conclusions. This suggests that the range of approaches that are employed in the psychological literature to analyse pupillary response data do not fundamentally influence the outcome of its analysis. However, some systematic carry-over effects were observed when a pre-stimulus baseline correction was applied, whereby dilation effects from an arousing target on one trial were still influencing pupil size on the next trial. This indicates that the appropriate application of this analysis may require additional information, such as prior knowledge of the duration of carry-over effects.
  • Bruce, V., Bindemann, M., & Lander, K. (2018). Individual differences in face cognition: A commentary on Logie. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 7, 487-492. doi:10.1016/j.jarmac.2018.08.006
  • Fysh, M., & Bindemann, M. (2018). Person Identification from Drones by Humans: Insights from Cognitive Psychology. Drones, 2, 1-11. doi:10.3390/drones2040032
    The deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles (i.e., drones) in military and police operations implies that drones can provide footage that is of sufficient quality to enable the recognition of strategic targets, criminal suspects, and missing persons. On the contrary, evidence from Cognitive Psychology suggests that such identity judgements by humans are already difficult under ideal conditions, and are even more challenging with drone surveillance footage. In this review, we outline the psychological literature on person identification for readers who are interested in the real-world application of drones. We specifically focus on factors that are likely to affect identification performance from drone-recorded footage, such as image quality, and additional person-related information from the body and gait. Based on this work, we suggest that person identification from drones is likely to be very challenging indeed, and that performance in laboratory settings is still very likely to underestimate the difficulty of this task in real-world settings.
  • Estudillo, A., Kaufmann, J., Bindemann, M., & Schweinberger, S. (2018). Multisensory Stimulation Modulates Perceptual and Post-perceptual Face Representations: Evidence from Event-Related Potentials. European Journal of Neuroscience, 48, 2259-2271. doi:10.1111/ejn.14112
    Seeing a face being touched in spatial and temporal synchrony with the own face produces a bias in self-recognition, whereby the other face becomes more likely to be perceived as the self. The present study employed event-related potentials to explore whether this enfacement effect reflects initial face encoding, enhanced distinctiveness of the enfaced face, modified self-identity representations, or even later processing stages that are associated with the emotional processing of faces. Participants were stroked in synchrony or asynchrony with unfamiliar faces they observed on a monitor in front of them, in a situation approximating a mirror image. Subsequently, ERPs were recorded during the presentation of (i) a previously synchronously stimulated face, (ii) an asynchronously stimulated face, (iii) observers’ own face, (iv) filler faces and (v) a to-be-detected target face, which required a response. Observers reported a consistent enfacement illusion after synchronous stimulation. Importantly, the synchronously stimulated face elicited more prominent N170 and P200 responses than the asynchronously stimulated face. By contrast, similar N250 and P300 responses were observed in these conditions. These results suggest that enfacement modulates early neural correlates of face encoding and facial prototypicality, rather than identity self-representations and associated emotional processes.
  • Russ, A., Sauerland, M., Lee, C., & Bindemann, M. (2018). Individual differences in eyewitness accuracy across multiple lineups of faces. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 3. doi:10.1186/s41235-018-0121-8
    Theories of face recognition in cognitive psychology stipulate that the hallmark of accurate identification is the ability to recognize a person consistently, across different encounters. In this study, we apply this reasoning to eyewitness identification by assessing the recognition of the same target person repeatedly, over six successive lineups. Such repeat identifications are challenging and can be performed only by a proportion of individuals, both when a target exhibits limited and more substantial variability in appearance across lineups (Experiments 1 and 2). The ability to do so correlates with individual differences in identification accuracy on two established tests of unfamiliar face recognition (Experiment 3). This indicates that most observers have limited facial representations of target persons in eyewitness scenarios, which do not allow for robust identification in most individuals, partly due to limitations in their ability to recognize unfamiliar faces. In turn, these findings suggest that consistency of responses across multiple lineups of faces could be applied to assess which individuals are accurate eyewitnesses.
  • Fysh, M., & Bindemann, M. (2018). Human-computer interaction in face matching. Cognitive Science, 42, 1714-1732. doi:10.1111/cogs.12633
    Automatic facial recognition is becoming increasingly ubiquitous in security contexts such as passport control. Currently, Automated Border Crossing (ABC) systems in the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) require supervision from a human operator who validates correct identity judgements and overrules incorrect decisions. As the accuracy of this human-computer interaction is unknown, this research investigated how human validation is impacted by a priori face-matching decisions such as those made by automated face recognition software. Observers matched pairs of faces that were already labelled onscreen as depicting the same identity or two different identities. The majority of these labels provided information that was consistent with the stimuli presented, but some were also inconsistent or provided ‘unresolved’ information. Across three experiments, accuracy consistently deteriorated on trials that were inconsistently labelled, indicating that observers’ face-matching decisions are biased by external information such as that provided by ABCs.
  • Bruce, V., Bindemann, M., & Lander, K. (2018). Individual differences in face perception and person recognition (Editorial). Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 3. doi:10.1186/s41235-018-0109-4
  • Lander, K., Bruce, V., & Bindemann, M. (2018). Use-inspired basic research on individual differences in face identification: Implications for criminal investigation and security. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 3. doi:10.1186/s41235-018-0115-6
    This journal is dedicated to “use-inspired basic research” where a problem in the world shapes the hypotheses for study in the laboratory. This review considers the role of individual variation in face identification and the challenges and opportunities this presents in security and criminal investigations.
    We show how theoretical work conducted on individual variation in face identification has, in part, been stimulated by situations presented in the real world. In turn, we review the contribution of theoretical work on individual variation in face processing and how this may help shape the practical identification of faces in applied situations. We consider two cases in detail. The first case is that of security officers; gatekeepers who use facial ID to grant entry or deny access. One applied example, where much research has been conducted, is passport control officers who are asked to match a person in front of them to a photograph shown on their ID. What happens if they are poor at making such face matching decisions and can they be trained to improve their performance? Second, we outline the case of “super- recognisers”, people who are excellent at face recognition. Here it is interesting to consider whether these individuals can be strategically allocated to security and criminal roles, to maximise the identification of suspects.
    We conclude that individual differences are one of the largest documented sources of error in face matching and face recognition but more work is needed to account for these differences within theoretical models of face processing.
  • Fysh, M., & Bindemann, M. (2018). The Kent Face Matching Test. British Journal of Psychology, 109, 219-231. doi:10.1111/bjop.12260
    This paper presents the Kent Face Matching Test (KFMT), which comprises 200 same-identity and 20 different-identity pairs of unfamiliar faces. Each face pair consists of a photograph from a student ID-card and a high-quality portrait that was taken at least three months later. The test is designed to complement existing resources for face-matching research, by providing a more ecologically valid stimulus set that captures the natural variability that can arise in a person’s appearance over time. Two experiments are presented to demonstrate that the KFMT provides a challenging measure of face matching but correlates with established tests. Experiment 1 compares a short version of this test with the optimised Glasgow Face Matching Test (GFMT). In Experiment 2, a longer version of the KFMT, with infrequent identity mismatches, is correlated with performance on the Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT) and the Cambridge Face Perception Test (CFPT). The KFMT is freely available for use in face-matching research.
  • Ó Ciardha, C., Attard-Johnson, J., & Bindemann, M. (2018). Latency-based and Psychophysiological Measures of Sexual Interest Show Convergent and Concurrent Validity. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 47, 637-649. doi:10.1007/s10508-017-1133-z
    Latency-based measures of sexual interest require additional evidence of validity, as do newer pupil dilation approaches. One hundred and two community men completed six latency-based measures of sexual interest. Pupillary responses were recorded during three of these tasks and in an additional task where no participant response was required. For adult stimuli, there was a high degree of intercorrelation between measures, suggesting that tasks may be measuring the same underlying construct (convergent validity). In addition to being correlated with one another, measures also predicted participants’ self-reported sexual interest, demonstrating concurrent validity (i.e., the ability of a task to predict a more validated, simultaneously recorded, measure). Latency-based and pupillometric approaches also showed preliminary evidence of concurrent validity in predicting both self-reported interest in child molestation and viewing pornographic material containing children. Taken together, the study findings build on the evidence base for the validity of latency-based and pupillometric measures of sexual interest.
  • Megreya, A., & Bindemann, M. (2018). Feature instructions improve face-matching accuracy. PLoS ONE, 13. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0193455
    Identity comparisons of photographs of unfamiliar faces are prone to error but important for applied settings, such as person identification at passport control. Finding techniques to improve face-matching accuracy is therefore an important contemporary research topic. This study investigated whether matching accuracy can be improved by instruction to attend to specific facial features. Experiment 1 showed that instruction to attend to the eyebrows enhanced matching accuracy for optimized same-day same-race face pairs but not for other-race faces. By contrast, accuracy was unaffected by instruction to attend to the eyes, and declined with instruction to attend to ears. Experiment 2 replicated the eyebrow-instruc- tion improvement with a different set of same-race faces, comprising both optimized same- day and more challenging different-day face pairs. These findings suggest that instruction to attend to specific features can enhance face-matching accuracy, but feature selection is cru- cial and generalization across face sets may be limited.
  • Kokje, E., & Bindemann, M. (2018). Cross-race correlations in the abilities to match unfamiliar faces. Acta Psychologica, 185, 13-21. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2018.01.006
    The other-race effect in face identification has been documented widely in memory tasks, but it persists also in identity-matching tasks, in which memory contributions are minimized. Whereas this points to a perceptual locus for this effect, it remains unresolved whether matching performance with same- and other-race faces is driven by shared cognitive mechanisms. To examine this question, this study compared Arab and Caucasian observers’ ability to match faces of their own race with their ability to match faces of another race using one-to-one (Experiment 1) and one-to-many (Experiment 2) identification tasks. Across both experiments, Arab and Caucasian observers demonstrated reliable other-race effects at a group level. At an individual level, substantial variation in accuracy was found, but performance with same-race and other-race faces correlated consistently and strongly. This indicates that the abilities to match same- and other-race faces share a common cognitive mechanism.
  • Austen, G., Bindemann, M., Griffiths, R., & Roberts, D. (2018). Species identification by conservation practitioners using online images: accuracy and agreement between experts. PeerJ. doi:10.7717/peerj.4157
    Emerging technologies have led to an increase in species observations being recorded via digital images. Such visual records are easily shared, and are often uploaded to online communities when help is required to identify or validate species. Although this is common practice, little is known about the accuracy of species identification from such images. Using online images of newts that are native and non-native to the UK, this study asked holders of great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) licences (issued by UK authorities to permit surveying for this species) to sort these images into groups, and to assign species names to those groups. All of these experts identified the native species, but agreement among these participants was low, with some being cautious in committing to definitive identifications. Individuals’ accuracy was also independent of both their experience and self-assessed ability. Furthermore, mean accuracy was not uniform across species (69–96%). These findings demonstrate the difficulty of accurate identification of newts from a single image, and that expert judgements are variable, even within the same knowledgeable community. We suggest that identification decisions should be made on multiple images and verified by more than one expert, which could improve the reliability of species data.
  • Hermens, F., Bindemann, M., & Burton, A. (2017). Responding to social and symbolic extrafoveal cues: Cue shape trumps biological relevance. Psychological Research, 81, 24-42. doi:10.1007/s00426-015-0733-2
    Social cues presented at visual fixation have been shown to strongly influence an observer’s attention and response selection. Here we ask whether the same holds for cues (initially) presented away from fixation, more alike how cues are commonly perceived in natural vision. In six experiments, we show that extrafoveally presented cues with a distinct outline, such as pointing hands, rotated heads, and arrow cues result in strong cueing of responses (either to the cue itself, or a cued object). In contrast, cues without a clear outline, such as gazing eyes and direction words have a much weaker effects on participants’ responses to a target cue. We also show that distraction effects on response times are relatively weak, but that strong interference effects can be obtained by measuring mouse trajectories. Eye tracking suggests that gaze cues are slower to respond to because their direction cannot easily be perceived in extrafoveal vision. Together these data suggest that the strength of an extrafoveal cue is determined by the shape of the outline of the cue, rather than its biological relevance (i.e., whether the cue is provided by another human being), and that this shape effect is due to how easily the direction of the cue can be perceived in extrafoveal vision.
  • Bindemann, M., & Johnston, R. (2017). Understanding how Unfamiliar Faces become Familiar: Introduction to a Special Issue on Face Learning. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70, 859-862. doi:10.1080/17470218.2016.1267235
  • Bindemann, M., Fysh, M., Sage, S., Douglas, K., & Tummon, H. (2017). Person identification from aerial footage by a remote-controlled drone. Scientific Reports, 7, 1-10. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-14026-3
    Remote-controlled aerial drones (or unmanned aerial vehicles; UAVs) are employed for surveillance by the military and police, which suggests that drone-captured footage might provide sufficient information for person identification. This study demonstrates that person identification from drone- captured images is poor when targets are unfamiliar (Experiment 1), when targets are familiar and the number of possible identities is restricted by context (Experiment 2), and when moving footage is employed (Experiment 3). Person information such as sex, race and age is also difficult to access from drone-captured footage (Experiment 4). These findings suggest that such footage provides a particularly poor medium for person identification. This is likely to reflect the sub-optimal quality of such footage, which is subject to factors such as the height and velocity at which drones fly, viewing distance, unfavourable vantage points, and ambient conditions.
  • Fysh, M., & Bindemann, M. (2017). Effects of time pressure and time passage on face-matching accuracy. Royal Society Open Science, 4, 1-13. doi:10.1098/rsos.170249
    This study investigated the impact of time pressure on matching accuracy with face pairs that combined photographs from student ID cards with high-quality person portraits, and under conditions that provided infrequent identity mismatches. Time pressure was administered via two onscreen displays that observers could use to adjust the amount of time that was allocated to a given trial while completing a block of trials within a required timeframe. Under these conditions, observers matched faces under time pressure that varied from 10 to 2 s (Experiment 1) and 8 to 2 s (Experiment 2). An effect of time pressure was found in each experiment, whereby performance deteriorated under time targets of 4s. Additionally, a match response bias emerged consistently across blocks, and indicated that separately to time pressure, performance also deteriorated due to time passage. These results therefore indicate that both time passage and pressure exert detrimental effects on face matching.
  • Attard-Johnson, J., & Bindemann, M. (2017). Sex-specific but not sexually explicit: pupillary responses to dressed and naked adults. Royal Society Open Science, 4. doi:10.1098/rsos.160963
    Dilation of the pupils is an indicator of an observer's sexual interest in other people, but it remains unresolved whether this response is strengthened or diminished by sexually explicit material. To address this question, this study compared pupillary responses of heterosexual men and women to naked and dressed portraits of male and female adult film actors. Pupillary responses corresponded with observers' self-reported sexual orientation, such that dilation occurred during the viewing of opposite-sex people, but were comparable for naked and dressed targets. These findings indicate that pupillary responses provide a sex-specific measure, but are not sensitive to sexually explicit content.
  • Estudillo, A., & Bindemann, M. (2017). Can gaze-contingent mirror-feedback from unfamiliar faces alter self-recognition?. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70, 944-958. doi:10.1080/17470218.2016.1166253
    This study focuses on learning of the self, by examining how human observers update internal representations of their own face. For this purpose, we present a novel gaze-contingent paradigm, in which an onscreen face either mimics observers’ own eye-gaze behaviour (in the congruent condition), moves its eyes in different directions to that of the observers (incongruent condition), or remains static and unresponsive (neutral condition). Across three experiments, the mimicry of the onscreen face did not affect observers’ perceptual self-representations. However, this paradigm influenced observers’ reports of their own face. This effect was such that observers felt the onscreen face to be their own and that, if the onscreen gaze had moved on its own accord, observers expected their own eyes to move too. The theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.
  • Beattie, L., Bindemann, M., Kyle, S., & Biello, S. (2017). Attention to beds in natural scenes by observers with insomnia symptoms. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 92, 51-56. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2017.02.001
    Attention biases to sleep-related stimuli are held to play a key role in the development and maintenance of insomnia, but such biases have only been shown with controlled visual displays. This study investigated whether observers with insomnia symptoms allocate attention to sleep-related items in natural scenes, by recording eye movements during free-viewing of bedrooms. Participants with insomnia symptoms and normal sleepers were matched in their visual exploration of these scenes, and there was no evidence that the attention of those with insomnia symptoms was captured more quickly by sleep-related stimuli than that of normal sleepers. However, the insomnia group fixated bed regions on more trials and, once fixated on a bed, also remained there for longer. These findings indicate that sleep stimuli are particularly effective in retaining visual attention in complex natural scenes.
  • Megreya, A., & Bindemann, M. (2017). A visual processing advantage for young-adolescent deaf observers: Evidence from face and object matching tasks. Scientific Reports, 7, 1-6. doi:10.1038/srep41133
    It is unresolved whether the permanent auditory deprivation that deaf people experience leads to the enhanced visual processing of faces. The current study explored this question with a matching task in which observers searched for a target face among a concurrent lineup of ten faces. This was compared with a control task in which the same stimuli were presented upside down, to disrupt typical face processing, and an object matching task. A sample of young-adolescent deaf observers performed with higher accuracy than hearing controls across all of these tasks. These results clarify previous findings and provide evidence for a general visual processing advantage in deaf observers rather than a face-specific effect.
  • Attard-Johnson, J., Bindemann, M., & Ó Ciardha, C. (2016). Heterosexual, Homosexual, and Bisexual Men’s Pupillary Responses to Persons at Different Stages of Sexual Development. The Journal of Sex Research, 54, 1085-1096. doi:10.1080/00224499.2016.1241857
    This study investigated whether pupil size during the viewing of images of adults and children reflects the sexual orientation of hetero-, homo- and bisexual men (n = 100, Mage = 22). More specifically, we explored whether this measure corresponds with sexual age preferences for adults over children in non-paedophilic men. In general, results across three experiments, in which observers freely viewed or rated the sexual appeal of person images, suggest that pupil dilation to sexual stimuli is an indicator of sexual orientation towards adults. Heterosexual men’s pupils dilated most strongly to adults of the other sex, homosexual men dilated most strongly to adults of the same sex, and bisexual men showed an intermediate pattern. Dilation to adults was substantially stronger than dilation to younger age groups. Sexual appeal ratings for images of adults and children also correlated with pupil responses, suggesting a direct link between pupil dilation and sexual interest. These findings provide support for pupil dilation as a measure of sex- and age-specific sexual preferences.

Book section

  • Estudillo, A., & Bindemann, M. (2017). A multi-sensory system for self-face learning. In M. Bindemann & A. M. Megreya (Eds.), Face processing: Systems, Disorders and Cultural Differences (pp. 241-254). New York: Nova Science Publishing, Inc. Retrieved from https://www.novapublishers.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=62792
    The face is the primary visual signpost of our identity, but the process of how we know that a particular face is one’s own has only recently started to receive considerable scientific attention. This interest has been enhanced by multisensory phenomena such as the enfacement illusion. In this illusion, watching another face being stroked in synchrony with one’s own face produces a bias in self-recognition, whereby the other face is perceived as the own. Here, we argue that the enfacement illusion demonstrates that the representation of the own face is highly flexible and can be updated rapidly. This flexibility would allow the incorporation of changes in physical appearance as a consequence of, for example, ambient within-person variability, grooming activities or ageing. We further present evidence to demonstrate that the enfacement illusion not only transcends differences in visual appearance with another face, but also moderates affective and social processing of that face.
  • Megreya, A., & Bindemann, M. (2017). Culture shapes face perception : Comparisons of Egypt and the UK. In M. Bindemann & A. M. Megreya (Eds.), Face processing : Systems, Disorders and Cultural Differences. (pp. 287-304). New York: Nova Science Publishing, Inc. Retrieved from https://www.novapublishers.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=62792
    The psychological literature reports a variety of cross-cultural differences in cognition, but most of these are based on comparisons of Western and Asian observers. Here, we discuss quantitative and qualitative cross-cultural differences in face processing between Western (British) and Middle-Eastern (Egyptian) observers. First, the perceptual basis of the well-established other-race effect in face processing is reviewed. Second, we discuss a qualitative cross-cultural difference in the relative importance of internal and external features for the matching of unfamiliar faces, which appears to reflect the long-term experience of Middle-Eastern observers in perceiving faces with headscarves. Third, we discuss how cultural differences in reading direction affect the well-established left visual field bias in face processing. We conclude that cultural differences between Western and Middle-Eastern observers, such as those reflecting headdress traditions and reading direction, influence the perception of faces.
  • Fysh, M., & Bindemann, M. (2017). Forensic face matching : A review. In M. Bindemann & A. M. Megreya (Eds.), Face processing: Systems, Disorders and Cultural Differences (pp. 1-20). New York: Nova Science Publishing, Inc.
    Forensic face matching refers to the comparison of pairs of faces for identification purposes, and is ubiquitous in applied contexts such as passport control. Despite its widespread use, a remarkable number of errors arise in this task even under optimised conditions. In this review, we outline the problem of face matching within the wider context of passport control. We then proceed to review factors that influence accuracy by constraining data quantity within stimuli, through changes in pose, illumination, and image quality, for example. This is followed by a review of factors that influence resource limits within individuals to perform this task, encompassing individual differences and sources of bias.

Conference or workshop item

  • Megreya, A., & Bindemann, M. (2018). Feature instructions improve face-matching accuracy. In American Association of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Las Vegas, USA.
  • Black, J., & Bindemann, M. (2017). A Gaze Contingent Exploration of Social Attention in Autism Spectrum Disorder. In International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR). San Francisco, USA.
  • Garcia, E., Johnston, R., & Bindemann, M. (2017). Facial composites: Helpful or harmful?. In Experimental Psychology Society. Reading, UK.
  • Gentry, N., & Bindemann, M. (2017). Example face pairs improve identity-matching in low-performing individuals. In Experimental Psychology Society. Reading, UK.
  • Tummon, H., & Bindemann, M. (2017). Unfamiliar face matching at a virtual reality airport. In Experimental Psychology Society. Reading, UK.
  • Tummon, H., Allen, J., & Bindemann, M. (2017). Unfamiliar face matching at a virtual reality airport. In European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP). Berlin, Germany.
  • Fysh, M., & Bindemann, M. (2017). Human-computer interaction in face matching. In European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP). Berlin, Germany.
  • Fysh, M., & Bindemann, M. (2017). Human-computer interaction in face matching. In Face Recognition at its Best. London, UK.
  • Bindemann, M. (2017). Face Recognition at its Best - NextGen panel. In Face Recognition at its Best. London, UK.
  • Bindemann, M. (2016). Sex and Vision Science. In Objectification and ‘sexiness’ workshop. University College London.

Datasets / databases

  • Austen, G., Bindemann, M., Griffiths, R., & Roberts, D. (2018). Species identification by conservation practitioners using online images: accuracy and agreement between experts. doi:10.7717/peerj.4157
    Emerging technologies have led to an increase in species observations being recorded via digital images. Such visual records are easily shared, and are often uploaded to online communities when help is required to identify or validate species. Although this is common practice, little is known about the accuracy of species identification from such images. Using online images of newts that are native and non-native to the UK, this study asked holders of great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) licences (issued by UK authorities to permit surveying for this species) to sort these images into groups, and to assign species names to those groups. All of these experts identified the native species, but agreement among these participants was low, with some being cautious in committing to definitive identifications. Individuals’ accuracy was also independent of both their experience and self-assessed ability. Furthermore, mean accuracy was not uniform across species (69–96%). These findings demonstrate the difficulty of accurate identification of newts from a single image, and that expert judgements are variable, even within the same knowledgeable community. We suggest that identification decisions should be made on multiple images and verified by more than one expert, which could improve the reliability of species data.
  • Austen, G., Bindemann, M., Griffiths, R., & Roberts, D. (2016). Species identification by experts and non-experts: comparing images from field guides. Scientific Reports.
    Accurate species identification is fundamental when recording ecological data. However, the ability to correctly identify organisms visually is rarely questioned. We investigated how experts and non-experts compared in the identification of bumblebees, a group of insects of considerable conservation concern. Experts and non-experts were asked whether two concurrent bumblebee images depicted the same or two different species. Overall accuracy was below 60% and comparable for experts and non-experts. However, experts were more consistent in their answers when the same images were repeated, and more cautious in committing to a definitive answer. Our findings demonstrate the difficulty of correctly identifying bumblebees using images from field guides. Such error rates need to be accounted for when interpreting species data, whether or not they have been collected by experts. We suggest that investigation of how experts and non-experts make observations should be incorporated into study design, and could be used to improve training in species identification.

Edited book

  • Bindemann, M. (2017). Face processing: Systems, Disorders and Cultural Differences. (M. Bindemann & A. M. Megreya, Eds.). New York: Nova Science Publishing, Inc. Retrieved from https://www.novapublishers.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=62896
    Face processing is now a mainstream, multi-faceted and global research field in psychology, and it is growing exponentially. The volume of emerging research necessitates continuous efforts to update our overall understanding of current theory. This book brings together contributions from face processing researchers around the world to provide up-to-date reviews of topics of great current interest. The book is partitioned to give insight into face processing systems, such as those employed to verify a person’s identity in applied security settings, the state-of-the-art systems utilized for the construction of criminal facial composites in police investigations, and the cognitive systems for the recognition of familiar faces and bodies; disorders, focusing on people with extremely high and extremely poor face processing ability, as well as face processing in autism spectrum disorder; and cultural differences, including the development of perceptual and social race biases, the impact of cultural headdress traditions and reading directions on face perception, cultural similarities and differences in the processing of facial expressions, as well as a broader look at ethnicity, gender and age biases in face processing. The outcome is a book that provides diverse, interesting, useful and thought-provoking chapters, covering a range of topics of current theoretical and applied importance, authored by a combination of internationally renowned and exciting upcoming researchers. (Nova)

Edited journal

  • Bruce, V., Lander, K., & Bindemann, M. (Eds.). (2018). Individual differences in face perception and person recognition. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 3. Retrieved from https://www.springeropen.com/collections/IDFP
  • Bindemann, M., & Johnston, R. A. (Eds.). (2017). Understanding how unfamiliar faces become familiar: A special issue on face learning. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70, 859-986. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/pqje20/70/5


  • Claydon, J. (2019). Forensic Expertise in Facial Image Comparison.
    Deciding whether two images of unfamiliar faces are the same person or two different people is a difficult task, but one in which forensic facial examiners generally outperform untrained observers, although not with perfect accuracy. Here, the ways in which they perform face matching were compared with forensically-trained and non-expert controls whilst eye movements were recorded. In Experiments 1 and 2, examiners were the most accurate group. In Experiment 3, rating the features prior to the same or different matching decision improved the controls' performance which reduced the examiners' accuracy advantage. Across the experiments, all groups showed similar patterns of responses to the face pairs and similar attention to the features, including a bias towards faces on the left of the screen. The higher overall accuracy of examiners was not accounted for by differences in viewing times, or by a more conservative response to feature rating. Further, examining the performance of individual examiners showed how group accuracy was driven by some high performers, although the same examiners were not consistently the most accurate in all experiments. Overall, this study did not find any differences in the way professionals viewed faces which might explain their high performance as a group. However, as the adoption of a feature comparison strategy improved accuracy for both control groups, this suggests high accuracy for facial experts may be due to their methodological approach to face matching rather than any qualitative differences in their viewing behaviours.
  • Fysh, M. (2017). Time Pressure and Human-Computer Interaction in Face Matching.
    Research has consistently demonstrated that the matching of unfamiliar faces is remarkably error-prone. This raises concerns surrounding the reliability of this task in operational settings, such as passport control, to verify a person's identity. A large proportion of the research investigating face matching has done so whilst employing highly optimised same-day face photographs. Conversely, such ideal conditions are unlikely to arise in realistic contexts, thus making it difficult to estimate accuracy in these settings from current research. To attempt to address this limitation, the experiments in this thesis aimed to explore performance in forensic face matching under a range of conditions that were intended to more closely approximate those at passport control. This was achieved by developing a new test of face matching - the Kent Face Matching Test (KFMT) - in which to-be-matched stimuli were photographed months apart (Chapter 2). The more challenging conditions provided by the KFMT were then utilised throughout the subsequent experiments reported, to investigate the impact of time pressure on task performance (Chapter 3), as well as the reliability of human-computer interaction at passport control (Chapter 4). The results of these experiments indicate that person identification at passport control is substantially more challenging than is currently estimated by studies that employ highly optimised face-pair stimuli. This was particularly evident on identity mismatch trials, for which accuracy deteriorated consistently within sessions, due to a match response bias that emerged over time (Chapters 2 & 3). These results are discussed within the context of passport control, and suggestions are provided for future research to further reveal why errors might arise in this task.
  • Attard-Johnson, J. (2016). Measuring sexual interests with pupillary responses.
    During the visual processing of sexual content, pupillary responses have been positively associated with observers' sexual orientation. The question of whether this measure also reflects age-specific sexual preferences, however, is rarely considered. This is remarkable given the potential applied value of pupillary responses for directly measuring unhealthy and inappropriate sexual desires in clinical and forensic settings. The experiments in this thesis addressed this question with a series of tasks whereby observers' viewed images of adults and children while their eye movements and pupil responses were recorded. These results were then compared with sexual appeal ratings for these images and self-report questionnaires relating to sexual interests and experiences. The main findings indicate that pupil dilation is a measure of sexual orientation that is particularly robust and consistent for male participants (Chapters 2 to 4). Furthermore, these experiments provide initial evidence that pupil dilation could also be used as an age-specific measure of sexual interest in males and females (Chapters 2 and 3). Additionally, this thesis explored the influence of low-level stimulus artefacts within the scenes on pupillary patterns (Chapter 2). Findings provide further evidence that the pupillary responses obtained in these experiments are driven by the person content in the scenes. These findings are discussed in relation to existing research on eye-tracking and other current measurements of sexual interest.
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