Anna Bobak & Alex Jones
University of Stirling & Swansea University
Unfamiliar face processing (face cognition) ability varies considerably in the general population. However, the means of its assessment are not standardised, and selected laboratory tests vary between studies. It is also unclear whether 1) the most commonly employed tests are reliable, 2) participants show a degree of consistency in their performance, 3) and the face cognition tests broadly measure one underlying ability, akin to general intelligence. In this study, we asked participants to perform eight tests frequently employed in the individual differences literature. We examined the reliability of these tests, relationships between them, consistency in participants’ performance, and used data driven approaches to determine factors underpinning performance. Overall, our findings suggest that the reliability of these tests is poor to moderate, the correlations between them are weak, the consistency in participant performance across tasks is low and that performance can be broadly split into two factors: telling faces together, and telling faces apart. We recommend that future studies adjust analyses to account for stimuli (face images) and participants as random factors, routinely assess reliability, and that newly developed tests of face cognition are examined in the context of convergent validity with other commonly used measures of face cognition ability.