Liberal or Conservative:
Individual Differences In Decision Criterion
Robyn Matthews & Dr. Andrea Hughes
University of the Fraser Valley
Human beings are a social species and the
human face is arguably the most pertinent aspect
of social interaction and communication (Wilhelm
et al., 2010). Therefore, recognizing faces swiftly
and accurately is of paramount importance to
human observers. However the identification of
faces is a difficult process, marked by individual
differences and fallibility (Bindemann, Avetisyan &
Rakow, 2012).
Although human observers are frequently thought
to be face experts (Jackiw, Arbuthnott, Pfeir,
Marcon and Meissner, 2008), the identification of
faces is a difficult process, marked by radically
different processes for familiar and unfamiliar
faces (Bindemann et al., 2012).
At the level of an individual, a broad distribution in
the abilities of different observers to process faces
is revealed (Aminoff et al., 2012). Recently,
several advances have been made in
understanding these differences and however
much of what the variance may be attributed to
remains to be accounted for. (Aminoff et al., 2012).
This study applies an innovative approach to
understanding the role of shared personality
characteristics in facial recognition memory.
Using the trait conceptualization of narcissism
individual differences in one’s ability to identify
unfamiliar faces was investigated.
Problematic personality traits of narcissism are
manifested through multiple domains and
empirical findings document a range of
narcissistic self-presentational styles. Overall a
self-promoting, self-enhancing, sexualized-self
presentational style pattern emerges (Miller et
al., 2010).
Study Phase - Participants will be asked to study a
series of eight face targets, and explicitly instructed
that their memory for those faces would later be
The personality disposition of narcissism and may
lead to a promising explanation of individual
differences in performance in recognition memory.
Test Phase – Participants will be presented with 16
lineup identification tasks, 8 TP and 8 TA. For each
array participants will be asked to identify whether a
target face was present and if so, indicate which of
the faces they believed it to be.
Research suggests that individual differences in
suggestibility to memory related events
correspond to certain personality characteristics
(Pires, Danillo, Silva & Ferreira, 2013).
First, because socially evaluative situations are
important to narcissists to maintain their grandiose
pictures of themselves, and to receive admiration,
a narcissists may be able to create a state,
requiring less evidence of knowledge that a face
was previously studied, adopting a liberal
response bias.
Second, a narcissists may anticipate a positive
evaluation outcome and subsequent admiration
from the experimenter, interpreting their
performance on the face identification task in a
more positive way, again applying a more liberal
Further, narcissism has consistently been
identified as a predictor of overclaiming
(Williams, Paulhus, & Nathonson, 2002).
Finally, situation relevant traits predict
performance in applied high pressure situations
(Geukes, Mesagno, Hanrahan & Kellmann,
We suggest two main reasons why participants
who score high on narcissism may demonstrate a
more liberal performance on the facial recognition
test than their low-scoring counterparts.
Phenomenological Judgement - Identification
judgments will be made using Remember-KnowGuess alternatives
Purpose and Predictions
To explore the complexity of facial processing this study investigated the relationship between trait narcissism and criterion placement using a facial recognition paradigm.
purpose of the present study was twofold.
1) To further the understanding of individual differences in facial recognition memory.
2) To test if a relationship exists between the personality disposition narcissism and the decision criterion adopted when deciding whether a target face is one that was
previously studied.
We hypothesize that narcissism will mediate one’s decision criteria with an individual who scores high on narcissism executing a liberal criterion, thereby designating
more test items as targets and an individual who scores low on narcissism using a conservative criterion, designating more test items as distractors.
For each participant d’ will be calculated and
correlations among the self reported narcissism
scores will be performed to examine the
relationship between the narcissism and decision
Selected References
Aminoff, E., Clewett, D., Freeman, S., Frithsen, A., Tipper, C., Johnson,
A., & Miller, M. (2012). Individual differences in shifting decision criterion:
A recognition memory study. Memory & Cognition, 40(7), 1016-1030.
Bindemann, M., Avetisyan, M., & Rakow, T. (2012). Who can recognize
unfamiliar faces? Individual differences and observer consistency in
person identification. Journal Of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 18(3),
277-291. doi:10.1037/a0029635
Geukes, K., Mesagno, C. D., Hanrahan, S. E., & Kellmann, M. (2012).
Testing an interactionist perspective on the relationship between
personality traits and performance under public pressure. Psychology of
Sport & Exercise, 13, 13243-250 doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2011.12.004

Individual Differences In Decision Criterion Robyn Matthews & Dr