Experimental Psychology Conference 2015

This year, the Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference was hosted by the University of Sydney. From the Expertise and Evidence Lab, Matt Thompson and Rachel Searston both presented some of their latest research. Matt presented: “The gist of a match: Fingerprint expert decision making in the blink of an eye”. In his study, Matt presented matching and non-matching fingerprints to experts and novices for only 250 milliseconds, and showed that fingerprint experts were able to, very quickly, decide whether the two presented fingerprints matched or not. His findings suggest that repeated training and exposure to different fingerprints enable experts to develop a fast and accurate method of categorisation. Rachel presented: “Identification expertise and family resemblance categorisation”. In her experiment, Rachel examined the ability of the fingerprint experts to categorise prints on the person basis as opposed to the specific prints. She presented experts with prints from five different fingers of a person’s hand, and asked whether or not the last print “matched” the other four different prints that came from the same person. She demonstrated that experts were able to accurately categorise prints on the basis of the family resemblance characteristics between the fingerprints of a person. Her findings suggest that the expertise of fingerprint examiners extends beyond simply matching the specific articulable features between prints. In June, Rachel, Matt, and Jason will be attending the Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (SARMAC) Conference in Victoria BC.

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