Below are a selection of current research projects that you can participate in.
Face matching task
Comparing the faces of people we do not know is a challenging task, much more so than recognising faces that we do know. Despite the difficulty of the task facial comparison is widely used in policing and security to determine a person’s identity, from checking a passport at the border to comparing CCTV images in the courtroom. This experiment forms part of a wider study investigating training, ability and expertise in facial comparison. You can take part by clicking the link below to find out how you score on a challenging face matching task. The task should take around 40 minutes. Please ensure you read the instructions carefully. We recommend you complete the task on a laptop or tablet as the images may be too small to reliably compare on a smart phone.
Eyewitness errors and wrongful convictions
Reports of exonerations of people convicted of crimes that they did not commit are commonplace in the Press. The Innocence Project (www.innocenceproject.org) is an example of an organisation that works to correct these miscarriages of justice, and reports that around 75% of these convictions are strongly influenced by eyewitnesses that misidentified a suspect. Understanding the conditions experienced by the eyewitness at the time of the crime that support accurate identification could help a jury to evaluate eyewitness evidence in court. This could potentially reduce the number of miscarriages. This experiment focuses on testing eyewitness accuracy under varying conditions and focuses on face recognition performance by asking you to identify faces. This takes around 15-20 mins. It must be done on a desktop or laptop computer (the experiment will terminate if a mobile or tablet is used). Please click on the link to take part when you can fully concentrate.
Social media and crime survey
The aim of this survey is to explore some of the issues involved in social networking, particularly around police investigations and how the police engage with the public.
Test your face recognition
Are you a football fan? If so (and even if you’re not), why not take part in this short face recognition study? The aim of the study is to investigate people’s ability to recognise faces belonging to different groups; in this case, different football team supporters. To explore this, you will be shown a series of football fans’ faces, which you will be asked to remember and later identify. We recommend that you complete this study on a computer screen or tablet (as mobile phone screens may be too small). The study itself should take approximately 10-15 minutes, and can be accessed here:
Survey on attitudes to, and expectations and experiences of police investigations
The Open University is conducting an online survey designed to explore the opinions people have about the police and what expectations they have about investigations. If you have witnessed a crime, regardless of whether the crime was investigated by the police or not, there are also questions about your experience. It is part of ongoing research, so please read the description provided in the link below carefully before consenting to participate:
The aim of this research is to find out more about how the public view the police in terms of what behaviour is considered ethical. Through an online survey you will be provided with a series of 11 scenarios concerning the actions taken by a police officer and asked questions as to what your opinion is. It is part of ongoing research, so please read the description provided in the link below carefully before consenting to participate:
Forensic Science in Crime Drama
In recent years, people have increasingly been exposed to depictions of forensic science, particularly in television series about police investigations. Most of these programmes, such as CSI, show a mixture of real forensic science techniques, exaggerations of real techniques, and fictional techniques made up for dramatic purposes. We are interested in how people perceive the realism of these TV portrayals of forensic science, and what people see as ‘realistic’ in crime dramas. If you would like to take part in the survey, then please click on the link below.