Publications by authors named "Emma Portch"

9 Publications

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EXPRESS: When Two Fields Collide: Identifying "Super-Recognisers" for Neuropsychological and Forensic Face Recognition Research.

Q J Exp Psychol (Hove) 2021 Jun 10:17470218211027695. Epub 2021 Jun 10.

Bournemouth University, UK 6657.

In the last decade, a novel individual differences approach has emerged across the face recognition literature. While the field has long been concerned with prosopagnosia (the inability to recognise facial identity), it has more recently become clear that there are vast differences in face recognition ability within the typical population. "Super-recognisers" are those individuals purported to reside at the very top of this spectrum. On the one hand, these people are of interest to cognitive neuropsychologists who are motivated to explore the commonality of the face recognition continuum, whereas researchers from the forensic face matching field evaluate the implementation of super-recognisers into real-world police and security settings. These two rather different approaches have led to discrepancies in the definition of super-recognisers, and perhaps more fundamentally, the approach to identifying them, resulting in a lack of consistency that prohibits theoretical progress. Here, we review the protocols used in published work to identify super-recognisers, and propose a common definition and screening recommendations that can be adhered to across fields.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/17470218211027695DOI Listing
June 2021

Changes in Sexual Fantasy and Solitary Sexual Practice During Social Lockdown Among Young Adults in the UK.

Sex Med 2021 May 5;9(3):100342. Epub 2021 May 5.

Bournemouth University, Poole, England, UK. Electronic address:

Introduction: Pandemic-related social lockdown limited many sexual behaviors, but to date, no study has examined the perceived impact of social lockdown due to COVID-19 on sexual fantasy and solitary sexual behavior.

Aims: The present study sought to examine the perceived impact of social lockdown on sexual fantasy and solitary sexual behavior among UK young adults in various living situations.

Methods: A convenience sample of 565 adults aged 18-32 and living in the UK completed anonymous, web-based, study-specific questionnaires between May 14 and 18, 2020, 7 weeks after social lockdown was initiated. Mixed-method analyses were conducted.

Main Outcome Measures: The study presents qualitative and quantitative data. Criterion variables were measured dichotomously as increases (vs no change) in sexual fantasy and increases (vs no change) in pornography consumption. Predictor variables were living arrangement, relationship status, and postlockdown changes in masturbation and pornography consumption.

Results: Of all, 34.3% engaged in more sexual fantasizing during lockdown; women were more likely than men to report this increase. Living context and relationship status were predictors of increased fantasizing. Of all, 30.44% reported an increase in at least one solitary sexual practice. This increase was associated with an increase in sexual fantasizing and also with increased pornography consumption. Nineteen percent of participants reported an increase in pornography use, with men being more likely than women to report this increase. Participants mostly attributed their increases to boredom, increased free time, and replacing partnered sex.

Conclusion: Shifts in sexual fantasizing and solitary sexual practices were predicted by living arrangements, relationship status, and gender. The present findings suggest that the assessment of sexual fantasy and solitary sexual activities may benefit patients presenting with pandemic-related stress. Although mostly exploratory, significant changes in sexual fantasy and solitary sexual practices were observed. A cross-sectional design, convenience sampling, and study-specific measures are limitations. CJ Cascalheira, M McCormack, E Portch, et al. Changes in Sexual Fantasy and Solitary Sexual Practice During Social Lockdown Among Young Adults in the UK. J Sex Med 2021;XX:XXX-XXX.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.esxm.2021.100342DOI Listing
May 2021

Changes in Sexual Desire and Behaviors among UK Young Adults During Social Lockdown Due to COVID-19.

J Sex Res 2021 Mar 29:1-10. Epub 2021 Mar 29.

Department of Psychology, Bournemouth University.

This study examined self-reported changes in young adults' sexual desire and behaviors during the most significant social restrictions imposed to deal with COVID-19. Drawing on a survey of 565 British adults aged 18-32 collected at the peak of social lockdown restrictions, we document an overall decrease in sexual behaviors consistent with abiding by social restrictions. We found that the levels of sexual desire reported by women (but not men) decreased compared with reports of pre-lockdown levels. Participants in serious relationships reported more increases in sexual activity than people who were single or dating casually, and there were significant differences according to gender and sexual orientation. The perceived impact of subjective wellbeing of people with high sociosexuality scores was disproportionately associated with social lockdown but there was no effect for general health. Thus, the impact on sexuality and general wellbeing should be considered by policymakers when considering future social restrictions related to COVID-19 or other public health emergencies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2021.1897067DOI Listing
March 2021

Enhanced Matching of Children's Faces in "Super-Recognisers" But Not High-Contact Controls.

Iperception 2020 Jul-Aug;11(4):2041669520944420. Epub 2020 Jul 26.

Department of Psychology, Bournemouth University, Poole, United Kingdom.

Face matching is notoriously error-prone, and some work suggests additional difficulty when matching the faces of children. It is possible that individuals with natural proficiencies in adult face matching ("super-recognisers" [SRs]) will also excel at the matching of children's faces, although other work implicates facilitations in typical perceivers who have high levels of contact with young children (e.g., nursery teachers). This study compared the performance of both of these groups on adult and child face matching to a group of low-contact controls. High- and low-contact control groups performed at a remarkably similar level in both tasks, whereas facilitations for adult and child face matching were observed in some (but not all) SRs. As a group, the SRs performed better in the adult compared with the child task, demonstrating an extended own-age bias compared with controls. These findings suggest that additional exposure to children's faces does not assist the performance in a face matching task, and the mechanisms underpinning superior recognition of adult faces can also facilitate the child face recognition. Real-world security organisations should therefore seek individuals with general facilitations in face matching for both adult and child face matching tasks.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2041669520944420DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7385838PMC
July 2020

Reevaluating the role of verbalization of faces for composite production: Descriptions of offenders matter!

J Exp Psychol Appl 2020 Jun 21;26(2):248-265. Epub 2019 Nov 21.

School of Psychology.

Standard forensic practice necessitates that a witness describes an offender's face prior to constructing a visual likeness, a facial composite. However, describing a face can interfere with face recognition, although a delay between description and recognition theoretically should alleviate this issue. In Experiment 1, participants produced a free recall description either 3-4 hr or 2 days after intentionally or incidentally encoding a target face, and then constructed a composite using a modern "feature" system immediately or after 30 min. Unexpectedly, correct naming of composites significantly following the 30-min delay between description and construction for targets encoded 2 days previously. In Experiment 2, participants in these conditions gave descriptions that were better matched to their targets by independent judges, a result which suggests that the 30-min delay actually impairs access to details of recalled descriptions that are valuable for composite effectiveness. Experiment 3 found the detrimental effect of description delay extended to composites constructed from a "holistic" face production system. The results have real-world but counterintuitive implications for witnesses who construct a face 1 or 2 days after a crime: After having recalled the face to a practitioner, an appreciable delay (here, 30 min) should be avoided before starting face construction. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xap0000251DOI Listing
June 2020

Redefining super recognition in the real world: Skilled face or person identity recognizers?

Br J Psychol 2019 08 18;110(3):480-482. Epub 2019 Mar 18.

Division of Psychology, College of Health and Life Sciences, Brunel University, London, UK.

While there has been growing interest in the deployment of superior face recognizers in policing and security settings, it is likely that most real-world tasks tap person rather than face recognition skills. We suggest that changes in real-world screening tasks and terminology are required to distinguish these individuals from laboratory-identified superior face recognizers, who have more potential in developing our theoretical understanding of the face recognition system.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bjop.12392DOI Listing
August 2019

The limits of super recognition: An other-ethnicity effect in individuals with extraordinary face recognition skills.

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 2019 Mar 20;45(3):363-377. Epub 2018 Dec 20.

Dorset Police.

In the last decade there has been increasing interest in super-recognizers, who have an extraordinary ability to recognize faces. However, it has not yet been investigated whether these individuals are subject to the same biases in face recognition as typical perceivers. The most renowned constraint reported to date is the other-ethnicity effect, whereby people are better at recognizing faces from their own, compared with other, ethnicities. If super-recognizers also show this bias, it is possible that they are no better at other-ethnicity face recognition than typical native perceivers-a finding that would have important theoretical and practical implications. In the current study, eight Caucasian super-recognizers performed other-ethnicity tests of face memory and face matching. In Experiment 1, super-recognizers outperformed Caucasian but not Asian controls in their memory for Asian faces. In Experiment 2, a similar pattern emerged in some super-recognizers on a test of face matching. Finally, Experiment 3 examined the consistency of superior other-ethnicity face matching in relation to Caucasian controls, using Arab and Black faces. Only four super-recognizers consistently outperformed controls, and other-ethnicity matching performance was not related to Caucasian face-matching or own- or other-ethnicity face memory. These findings suggest that super-recognizers are subject to the same biases as typical perceivers, and are simply those at the top end of a common face recognition spectrum as opposed to a qualitatively different group of individuals. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xhp0000607DOI Listing
March 2019

The impact of external facial features on the construction of facial composites.

Ergonomics 2019 Apr 4;62(4):575-592. Epub 2019 Feb 4.

d School of Psychology , University of Central Lancashire , Preston , United Kingdom.

Witnesses may construct a composite face of a perpetrator using a computerised interface. Police practitioners guide witnesses through this unusual process, the goal being to produce an identifiable image. However, any changes a perpetrator makes to their external facial-features may interfere with this process. In Experiment 1, participants constructed a composite using a holistic interface one day after target encoding. Target faces were unaltered, or had altered external-features: (i) changed hair, (ii) external-features removed or (iii) naturally-concealed external-features (hair, ears, face-shape occluded by a hooded top). These manipulations produced composites with more error-prone internal-features: participants' familiar with a target's unaltered appearance less often provided a correct name. Experiment 2 applied external-feature alterations to composites of unaltered targets; although whole-face composites contained less error-prone internal-features, identification was impaired. Experiment 3 replicated negative effects of changing target hair on construction and tested a practical solution: selectively concealing hair and eyes improved identification. Practitioner Summary: The research indicates that when a target identity disguises or changes hair, this can lead to a witness (or victim) constructing a composite that is less readily identified. We assess a practical method to overcome this forensic issue. Abbreviation: GEE: Generalized Estimating Equations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00140139.2018.1556816DOI Listing
April 2019

Using affective knowledge to generate and validate a set of emotion-related, action words.

PeerJ 2015 28;3:e1100. Epub 2015 Jul 28.

School of Psychology, Keynes College, University of Kent , Canterbury , UK.

Emotion concepts are built through situated experience. Abstract word meaning is grounded in this affective knowledge, giving words the potential to evoke emotional feelings and reactions (e.g., Vigliocco et al., 2009). In the present work we explore whether words differ in the extent to which they evoke 'specific' emotional knowledge. Using a categorical approach, in which an affective 'context' is created, it is possible to assess whether words proportionally activate knowledge relevant to different emotional states (e.g., 'sadness', 'anger', Stevenson, Mikels & James, 2007a). We argue that this method may be particularly effective when assessing the emotional meaning of action words (e.g., Schacht & Sommer, 2009). In study 1 we use a constrained feature generation task to derive a set of action words that participants associated with six, basic emotional states (see full list in Appendix S1). Generation frequencies were taken to indicate the likelihood that the word would evoke emotional knowledge relevant to the state to which it had been paired. In study 2 a rating task was used to assess the strength of association between the six most frequently generated, or 'typical', action words and corresponding emotion labels. Participants were presented with a series of sentences, in which action words (typical and atypical) and labels were paired e.g., "If you are feeling 'sad' how likely would you be to act in the following way?" … 'cry.' Findings suggest that typical associations were robust. Participants always gave higher ratings to typical vs. atypical action word and label pairings, even when (a) rating direction was manipulated (the label or verb appeared first in the sentence), and (b) the typical behaviours were to be performed by the rater themselves, or others. Our findings suggest that emotion-related action words vary in the extent to which they evoke knowledge relevant for different emotional states. When measuring affective grounding, it may then be appropriate to use categorical ratings in conjunction with unimodal measures, which assess the 'magnitude' to which words evoke feelings (e.g., Newcombe et al., 2012). Towards this aim we provide a set of emotion-related action words, accompanied by generation frequency and rating data, which show how strongly each word evokes knowledge relevant to basic emotional states.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1100DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4525695PMC
August 2015