Statistical feature training improves fingerprint-matching accuracy in novices and professional fingerprint examiners

Bethany Growns, Alice Towler, James D. Dunn, Jessica M. Salerno, N. J. Schweitzer, Itiel E. Dror

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Forensic science practitioners compare visual evidence samples (e.g. fingerprints) and decide if they originate from the same person or different people (i.e. fingerprint ‘matching’). These tasks are perceptually and cognitively complex—even practising professionals can make errors—and what limited research exists suggests that existing professional training is ineffective. This paper presents three experiments that demonstrate the benefit of perceptual training derived from mathematical theories that suggest statistically rare features have diagnostic utility in visual comparison tasks. Across three studies (N = 551), we demonstrate that a brief module training participants to focus on statistically rare fingerprint features improves fingerprint-matching performance in both novices and experienced fingerprint examiners. These results have applied importance for improving the professional performance of practising fingerprint examiners, and even other domains where this technique may also be helpful (e.g. radiology or banknote security).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number60
JournalCognitive Research: Principles and Implications
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Expertise
  • Face matching
  • Fingerprint matching
  • Forensic science
  • Perceptual expertise
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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