School of Psychological Science

Postgraduate Profiles


Laura McLaughlin Engfors

Phone: (+61 8) 6488 3636
Fax: (+61 8) 6488 1006

Start date

Mar 2013

Submission date

Jul 2018

Laura McLaughlin Engfors

Laura McLaughlin Engfors profile photo


Factors that contribute to individual differences in face recognition ability.


It is difficult to find a cognitive skill that is more relied upon for everyday social interactions than humans ability to recognize and distinguish one person’s face from another. Despite this, in the general population there are wide-ranging, stable individual differences. This spectrum of face recognition ability ranges from those who have an extraordinary ability to recognize the faces of even the shallowest of acquaintances to those at the lower end of the spectrum who have great difficulty recognizing the faces of close friends and family members. Because face recognition is such a socially advantageous ability, people at this lower end of the spectrum can find everyday social situations extremely challenging. It is important, therefore, to determine what factors contribute to variation in this ability. My research focuses on the contribution of four main factors: 1.) two perceptual face-coding mechanisms, holistic and adaptive norm-based coding 2.) effort and interest in tasks that assess face recognition ability 3.) social interest (i.e. sociable personality traits) 4.) social experience (that is, the extent someone interacts with others).

Why my research is important

The results of my research have both theoretical and practical value, providing key insights into what is important for successful face recognition both in the lab and in real-world situations. The implications of this research will support the long-term aim of developing interventions to enhance face recognition, and ultimately, social functioning and quality of life in individuals with face recognition difficulties.


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Friday, 23 January, 2015 3:27 PM