Taking research to members of the public

Frowd, Charlie orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5082-1259, hancock, Peter J.B., Russell, Laura and Heard, Priscilla (2014) Taking research to members of the public. The Psychologist, 27 (11). pp. 857-859. ISSN 0952-8229

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Official URL: https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk


In 2006, with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (£30k), we built a themed exhibit with the Sensation Science Centre in Dundee. In the main part of the exhibit, which was kitted out as a ‘police station’, a visitor would see a video of a man pretending to commit a crime and construct a composite of his face using a simplified version of our EvoFIT facial-composite system. Visitors were asked, using written and spoken prompts, to select faces from an array of alternatives, with selected items being ‘bred’ together, to allow a composite to be ‘evolved’. The exhibit then presented a picture of the man’s face alongside the evolved composite, example composites created by previous visitors and an average (‘morphed’) composite from the last four visitors. The exhibit took about five minutes for a user to complete and was accompanied by a ‘Research Lab’, a station which explained more of the underlying science: themes around evolution, computer-based generation of faces, forensic use of composites, etc. We expected the exhibit to last five years but, partly due to the robustness of the hardware, it remains today and is still popular.

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