New insights on real-world human face recognition.

Humans are supposedly expert in face recognition. Because of limitations in existing research paradigms, little is known about how faces become familiar in the real world, or the mechanisms that distinguish good from poor recognizers. Here, we capitalized on several unique features of the TV series Game of Thrones to develop a highly challenging test of face recognition that is ecologically grounded yet controls for important factors that affect familiarity. We show that familiarization with faces and reliable person identification require much more exposure than previously suggested. Recognition is impaired by the mere passage of time and simple changes in appearance, even for faces we have seen frequently. Good recognizers are distinguished not by the number of faces they recognize, but by their ability to reject novel faces as unfamiliar. Importantly, individuals with superior recognition abilities also forget faces and are not immune to identification errors. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)