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Dr Josh Davis - University Alliance. Greenwich, England, GB

Dr Josh Davis

Professor in Applied Psychology | University of Greenwich

Greenwich, England, UNITED KINGDOM

His area of expertise in in facial recognition - and in particular ‘super recognisers’.

Areas of Expertise (5)


Suspect Identification

Facial Recognition

Super Recognisers



Dr Josh Davis is a Reader in Applied Psychology in the School of Human Sciences at the University of Greenwich. His area of expertise is in facial recognition - and in particular ‘super recognisers’ (people with the exceptional memory of faces). He works with police forces around the world (such as in the UK, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, and Singapore) to address speedier and more effective methods of suspect identification through super recognisers’ analysis of CCTV footage. His work contributes to improvements in eye witnessing, identifying of false confessions, and addressing miscarriages of justice.

Josh is a Chartered Psychologist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. His PhD was on the Forensic Identification of Unfamiliar Faces in CCTV Images and he has since published 33 research articles on human face recognition and eyewitness identification, the reliability of facial composite systems (E-FITs), and methods used by expert witnesses to provide evidence of identification in court (facial comparison evidence). His first co-edited book Forensic Facial Identification: Theory and Practice of Identification from Eyewitnesses, Composites and CCTV was published in 2015.

Media Mentions (5)

Take This Online Test To See You if You Have a Face-Recognizing Superpower

My Modern Met  online


Have you ever seen someone's face in passing, then recognized that same person years later? If so, you may be a “super-recognizer.” Researcher Dr. Josh P. Davis at the University of Greenwich has developed a quick and free online test to identify people who are exceptionally good at human facial recognition. While many may be good or even great at recognizing others, Davis hypothesizes super-recognizers account for less than one percent of the population.

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Are you a ‘super-recogniser’ of faces? Take this test to find out

Happy  online


Apparently, around one per cent of the population falls into the category of ‘super-recognisers’. What exactly is a super recogniser, you may be wondering? It’s a term that was coined in 2009 by researchers from Harvard University for people with significantly better-than-average facial recognition ability.

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The eagle-eyed squad who never forget a face: NEIL TWEEDIE meets the 'super recognisers' of the elite police unit that spot suspects from years ago

Daily Mail  online


'People who are better at face recognition are using a holistic whole-face process, whereas people who are less good use a feature-by-feature approach,' says Dr Josh Davis, a Reader in Applied Psychology at the University of Greenwich.

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Meet the gifted individuals 'super recognisers' who can NEVER forget a face

Express  online


“Super recognisers display significantly higher levels of brain activity, far more quickly than controls, when asked to recognise faces first encountered a few minutes previously,” says Dr Davis.

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How police super-recognisers cracked the Russian novichok case

Wired UK  online


According to studies conducted by Josh Davis, a psychologist at the University of Greenwich, these individuals can remember more than 95 per cent of the faces they’ve seen before, while most of use only manages to identify a fifth.

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Multimedia Appearances






Accomplishments (3)

University of Greenwich: Outstanding Achievement in Enterprise Award Winner


Students’ Union: University of Greenwich Student-Led Teaching Awards: Supervisor of the Year


Students’ Union: University of Greenwich Student-Led Teaching Awards: Extra Mile Award (short list)


Education (3)

Goldsmiths College, University of London: Ph.D., Psychology 2005

University of Reading: M.Sc., Research Methods in Psychology 2002

Royal Holloway, University of London: B.Sc., Psychology 1999

Affiliations (5)

  • Chartered Member of the British Psychological Society
  • Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society
  • Member of the European Association of Psychology and Law
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Member of the Experimental Psychology Society

Articles (5)

Perceptual tuning through contact? Contact interacts with perceptual (not memory-based) face-processing ability to predict cross-race recognition

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

2020 Perceivers generally exhibit better face processing with same-race rather than cross-race faces. To what extent is this deficit attenuated by a perceiver's ability to process faces, and to what extent does that face-processing ability need to be “tuned” by experience with cross-race faces?

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The Goldsmiths Unfamiliar Face Memory and Before They Were Adult Tests

OSF Preprints

2020 Unfamiliar face identification ability varies widely in the population. Those at the extreme top and bottom ends of the continuum have been labelled super-recognisers and prosopagnosics, respectively. Here we describe the development of two new tests-the Goldsmiths Unfamiliar Face Memory Test (GUFMT) and the Before They Were Adult Test (BTWA), that have been designed to measure different aspects of face identity ability across the spectrum.

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Performance of Typical and Superior Face Recognisers on a Novel Interactive Face Matching Procedure


2020 Unfamiliar simultaneous face matching is error prone. Reducing incorrect identification decisions will positively benefit forensic and security contexts. The absence of view-independent information in static images likely contributes to the difficulty of unfamiliar face matching.

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Super‐recognisers: Face recognition performance after variable delay intervals

Applied Cognitive Psychology

2020 Outstanding long‐term face recognition of suspects is a hallmark of the exceptionally skilled police ‘super‐recognisers’ (SRs). Yet, research investigating SR's memory for faces mainly employed brief retention intervals.

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Evaluating Earwitness Identification Procedures: The Effect of Pre-parade Instructions


2020 Voice identification parades can be unreliable, as earwitness responses are error-prone. Here we vary pre-parade instructions, testing performance across serial and sequential procedures to examine ways of reducing errors. The participants listened to a target voice and later attempted to identify it from a parade.

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