If you find yourself doing double-takes at faces in crowds, you may have a strange and unique ability possessed by one person in three million—that of being a super-recognizer.
Like comic books superheroes, super-recognizers live among us, and a simple online test from the University of Greenwich can reveal whether or now you are one of them.
While admitting there is no single test that determines whether or not you’re a super-recognizer, researcher Dr. Josh P. Davis has at least made one that anyone can do, and that’s free and easy to take.
Trialists will see an image of a man for a few seconds, then they must select that his face from a lineup of people. The angle and the time when the two pictures were taken won’t always be the same, so it relies on a unique kind of memorization developed in the fusiform face area, part of the visual cortex.
If you score 10 of 14 or higher, you may be a super-recognizer, and additional tests are available if you want to pursue them.
Davis hopes to find these people in order to study their ability further, as they can have implications for law-enforcement curriculums.
Indeed, Andy Pope, a West-Midlands police officer is a super-recognizer, and his talents have led to 2,100 arrests for perpetrators of various crimes, including 16 in one day, and of those wearing face masks. He has earned the nickname “Memory Cop” for obvious reasons.
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The super-recognizer, who says his skill is “impossible to explain” but credits “instinct” for usually being right, spotted 1,000 offenders between 2012 and 2018.
If you’re interested in taking Davis’ five-minute test, you can find it here.
Editor’s note: The author of this story scored 10 out of 14, can you do better?
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