Finding the Missing: Effects of Perceptual and Conceptual Information in Missing Person Appeals

Lead Research Organisation: University of Portsmouth
Department Name: Psychology


This project aims to help missing people investigations by examining ways of improving public's memory for missing individuals. We aim to evaluate the effects of different types of information presented along an unfamiliar face on person memory, to use these findings to create an improved missing person appeal, and to test the effectiveness of this appeal during a virtual reality game.
Despite the low coverage of this issue in both academic research and the media, national statistics show that in the UK someone is recorded as missing every two minutes, and two-thirds of the missing people are under 18 years of age (National Policing Improvement Agency, 2011). One of the most common ways of trying to locate missing people is the creation and distribution of missing person appeals in the format of posters.
The first study will aim to establish what type of conceptual information, such as occupation or psychological traits, associated with the image of an unfamiliar individual is most beneficial for face recognition.
The second study will aim to compare the roles of high-variability perceptual information (e.g. multiple photographs of the same individual, taken in different contexts) and conceptual information and to assess their combined effect on the process of learning to recognize unfamiliar faces.
The last study will aim to assist missing people investigations by incorporating the findings of the first two studies into the creation of an improved version of a missing person appeal and testing its effectiveness during a virtual reality game.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000673/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1956663 Studentship ES/P000673/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2020 Stefana Juncu