Building faces from dry skulls: are they recognized above chance rates?

Stephan, C. N. and Henneberg, M. (2001) Building faces from dry skulls: are they recognized above chance rates?. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 46 3: 432-440.

Author Stephan, C. N.
Henneberg, M.
Title Building faces from dry skulls: are they recognized above chance rates?
Journal name Journal of Forensic Sciences   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0022-1198
Publication date 2001-05-01
Year available 2001
Sub-type Article (original research)
Volume 46
Issue 3
Start page 432
End page 440
Total pages 9
Place of publication Shannon, County Clare, Ireland
Publisher Elsevier Ireland
Language eng
Abstract Methods of facial approximation have successfully aided the identification of deceased individuals. Successes may be due to either accurate facial approximation techniques or chance. This study aims to determine if any of 16 facial approximations, built using standard techniques, are sufficiently accurate to produce correct identifications of target individuals above chance. Four skulls were approximated using four commonly used methods of facial approximation. The resulting 16 facial approximations were judged by 37 assessors of varying ages. Assessors attempted to identify the target individual of each facial approximation from a face pool of ten photographed faces. Only one facial approximation resulted in true positive identification rates above chance at statistically significant levels. It is concluded that it is rare for facial approximations to be sufficiently accurate to allow identification of a target individual above chance. Since 403 incorrect identifications were made out of 592 identification scenarios, facial approximation should be considered to be a highly inaccurate and unreliable forensic technique. These results suggest that facial approximations are not very useful in excluding individuals to whom skeletal remains may not belong. Evidence from this experiment supports suggestions by others that facial approximation should be used in forensic science when all other methods of identification have failed and only to provide tentative identification.
Keyword Medicine, Legal
Legal Medicine
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Biomedical Sciences Publications
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 55 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 58 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Fri, 23 Jan 2015, 23:57:57 EST by Carl Stephan on behalf of School of Biomedical Sciences