Directionality in cross-age face recognition: child-to-adult is easier than adult-to-child recognition
The query “have you seen me?” accompanies age-progressed pictures of children in the media. We explored whether individuals can recognize the faces of unfamiliar adults after studying their childhood pictures or even be able to match pictures of the same people taken at different ages while viewing them. Participants’ performance was better than chance level in a matching task with several possible targets in view (Experiment 1), as well as in a simple yes/no task comparing pairs of child/adult pictures (Experiment 2). Whether the comparison was the child or the adult version did not make a difference. Not surprisingly, memory performance was also not very good, although, in long-term memory (Experiment 4 and Experiment 5), participants did significantly better after studying children’s pictures and picking out their adult- version pictures than after studying adults’ pictures and picking out their child-version pictures. A similar asymmetry was not observed in short-term memory (Experiment 3). Additionally, we showed an own-gender bias in long-term memory in that performance was better for same- gender pictures in both child-to-adult memory direction and adult-to-child memory direction. The results were discussed within the framework of own-age bias in face recognition and implicit knowledge of aging.