Accepted Paper:

Introduction to cognitive bias in relation to facial depiction from human remains  
Caroline Wilkinson (Liverpool John Moores University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how cognitive bias affect facial depiction from human remains, using examples from forensic identification and archaeological investigation. The ethical challenges associated with facial images of the deceased and their presentation are discussed, along with the effects of historical fame and judgements of personality and character.

Paper long abstract:

Professor Caroline Wilkinson has been involved in facial depiction from human remains for over 25 years, and this expertise has a controversial and challenging history. In forensic cases there is a fundamental struggle between the objective of recognition/identification and the desire to produce a realistic and accurate image, and in archaeological cases there is a similar balance necessary between evidence-based and subjective interpretation.

This paper will discuss how experts balance the aims of public exhibition with the complexities of facial perception and appreciation, and debates the challenges associated with recent advances in digital technologies and CGI techniques. This paper describes how decisions are made relating to skin colour, eye colour, hair colour/style, clothing, signs of ageing, BMI, pathology, trauma and ethnic group, and how cognitive bias associated with our understanding of ancient or contemporary populations can be limited and/or accepted.

Panel P080
Depiction of the Dead: ethical challenges and cognitive bias