Tiny Eye Movements Reveal If Suspect is Lying About Recognition

Scientists from the University of Portsmouth suggests that suspects sometimes conceal recognition of a familiar person to protect co-conspirators or hide knowledge of a victim. The current experiment sought to determine whether eye fixations could be used to identify memory of known persons when lying about recognition of faces.


Recognizing people is an essential skill we often take for granted. Most of us able to recognize someone even after a long duration. Humans recognize faces has been of interest to researchers in different fields for several decades. But according to a new research, people’s eye movements has a different pattern while looking at faces they recognized.

By using eye-tracking technology, scientists found that eye movements in face recognition play many functional roles. Eye tracking is a sensor technology that enables a device to know exactly where your eyes actually focusing.

By determining person’s presence, focus, the consciousness, it shows deep insights into consumer behavior. Eye tracking interprets natural human behavior helps to gain deep insights into people’s attention and actions.

Lead author, Ailsa Millen, said, “Criminal accomplices often deny that they know other members in their networks. However, if a co-conspirator denies recognition in this way, their eye movements when viewing photos of those suspects, may reveal this type of lie.”

Scientists involved 59 volunteers in the study. They then analyzed the eye movements of each participant while looking at 200 digital color photographs of familiar and unfamiliar faces.

Familiar faces involve the persons who involved in participant’s real life. For example, faces of famous celebrities and those only seen briefly before the experimental trials. While recognizing, some participants even lied about they recognized the photos.

Alisa said, “We found that people’s eye movements were different when looking at photographs of faces they knew well compared to those they did not know, despite verbal reports denying recognition. When a participant looked at a face they recognized their eyes moved in a different pattern with fewer fixations. There is substantial evidence to suggest that this pattern is involuntary, which means it could be hard to control or fake.”

“This research could be valuable to police when trying to confirm key identities in criminal networks such as terrorist cells or gangs.”

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