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Face Recognition Essay


The cognitive concept of memory is an essential factor that can impact an individual’s life positively or negatively. The above notion implies that defects or limitations in memory retention and recall can drive an individual’s life to be extremely challenging.

It is imperative to note that the ability to remember is an essential parameter towards the well being of an individual bearing in mind that in t5yhe course of life, individuals are expected to remember who they are by positively identifying their past experiences alongside recognizing other people around them to promote fruitful social relations.

It is against this background that this essay critically analyses face recognition to capture crucial elements that come into play during this process as well as expose some errors that are likely to arise because memory retention and recall is liable to several limitations.

Empirical research studies have conclusively demonstrated that face recognition is an inborn capability. As such, there are quite several researchers in psychology who tend to justify this notion by portraying how infants respond to familiar faces (Robinson-Reigler & Robinson-Reigler 2008).

The notion above implies that face recognition is the most fundamental cognitive function during the entire course of human development. Nonetheless, face recognition is interestingly intertwined in several cognitive processes. It is imperative to mention that cognitive process is very significant in face recognition especially due to its role in storage and retrieval of information from long-term memory (Rakover &Cahlon, 2001).

Moreover, cognitive processes assist in the proper execution of the first and second order of information and how the two orders or levels of information relate top to each other (Li & Jain, 2005). The latter authors further expound that the first relational order identifies different parts of an object (face) while the second order strives to associate these features with a particular individual.

As a result, none of them can act independently since they fully rely on each other for optimal functioning. On the same note, concepts and categories of cognition play various roles in face identification, classification, and ultimate recognition. Categorization is an important cognitive process that demands a thorough classification of different objects based on their underlying similarities (Robinson-Reigler & Robinson-Reigler 2008).

Similarly, these categories are represented in mind in an abstract manner through concepts (Robinson-Reigler & Robinson-Reigler 2008). Li and Jain (2005) underscore that both concept and categorization go hand in hand whereby if one is absent, the remaining one cannot function independently.

However, the concept is superior to classification in the sense that ideas are the backbone to proper categorization during recognition and subsequent communication following positive recognition (Robinson-Reigler & Robinson-Reigler 2008).

It is imperative to mention that categorization which is informed via concepts is very significant during face recognition bearing in mind that without correct identification and classifications of familiar facial features, recognition will be greatly hindered (Li &Jain, 2005).

Moreover, grouping peoples faces in the right category will promote learning and understanding. Also, the very concepts will be stored for use in posterity. Concepts will be easily retrieved in case of an encounter with a familiar face (Li & Jain, 2005). Indeed, retrieval is an integral component of face recognition that may not be ignored at all.

Furthermore, the success or failure in face recognition is highly dependent on the crucial role of encoding and retrieval processes of the mind. Whenever an individual is introduced to a new person, the mind conceives some of the most outstanding facial features that are necessary for future recall.

As a result, the powerful role played by the encoding process is amplified in the long term memory until there is a necessity for retrieval (Li & Jain, 2005). Encoding is the most integral action before recognition; hence proper encoding is significant to ensure that no information is lost during storage or retrieval of facial features that aid in recognition (Rakover & Cahlon, 2001).

According to Robinson-Reigler and Robinson-Reigler (2008), memory retention and retrieval is greatly influenced by attention input during encoding process whereby distractions during prior encounters might hinder future recognition. Besides, if an individual’s memory is distracted by external or internal (emotional) stimuli during retrieval, some errors or total blackout is likely to arise when the necessity to recognize a certain face arises (Li &Jain, 2005).

In spite of the fact that face recognition is a significant cognitive process due to its necessity in creating and maintaining a healthy social relationship, Robinson-Reigler and Robinson-Reigler (2008) underscore that this process is sometimes prone to errors.

Researchers have incessantly attempted to link errors to the reconstructive characteristic of memory whereby they point out that errors tend to occur during re-creation processes in mind (Li & Jain, 2005). It is imperative to mention that as people reconstruct past encounters with familiar faces, events, or objects in preparation for some positive recognition, they are likely to be influenced by many variables such as the relationship between target memory and other memories/contexts stored in the brain (Li & Jain, 2005).

It is not surprising for an individual to positively identify a familiar face but fail miserably when trying to recall the context of prior interactions with that person (Li & Jain, 2005). Although, such an individual may be right about having a prior encounter with the familiar face, it not wonder if this familiarity is just an illusion of the brain.

Li and Jain (2005) refer to this error as misrepresentation. Misrepresentation is a common tendency that can be embarrassing to the parties involved. Moreover, distortion can have adverse effects in law whereby an eyewitness account if not properly scrutinized can lead to a miscarriage of justice is an innocent individual is positively identified via misrepresentation (Li & Jain, 2005).

On the extreme side, individuals can execute self-recognition errors whereby a person is unable to recognize own face due to problems in long –term memory mainly arising from medical conditions that inflict on the cognitive process of mind (Rakover &Cahlon, 2001).

In a nutshell, it is crucial to emphasize that face recognition, being a cognitive concept, is a complex process that involves identification, classification, and positive attention. Indeed, the aforementioned elements from the pinnacle of the entire face recognition concept.

Additionally, successful face recognition is not independent of cognitive concepts and most importantly, the categorization concept that determines whether the ends results will be successful or not. On the same note, the role of encoding and retrieval process cannot be overlooked in face recognition owing to their relationship with long-term memory and subsequent errors that arise following poor encoding and retrieval.


Li, S. & Jain, A. (2005). Handbook of face recognition. New York, NY: Springer.

Rakover, S. & Cahlon, B. (2001).Face recognition: cognitive and computational processes. Amsterdam: John Benjamin’s Publishing Company.

Robinson-Riegler, G. & Robinson-Riegler, B. (2008). Cognitive psychology: Applying the science of the mind (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

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"Face Recognition." IvyPanda, 14 Mar. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/face-recognition/.

1. IvyPanda. "Face Recognition." March 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/face-recognition/.


IvyPanda. "Face Recognition." March 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/face-recognition/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Face Recognition." March 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/face-recognition/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Face Recognition'. 14 March.

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