|The verbal overshadowing effect: Why descriptions impair face recognition
|Year of Publication
|Dodson C.S., Johnson M.K., Schooler J.W.
|Memory and Cognition
|Springer New York
Three experiments explored the verbal overshadowing effect, that is, the phenomenon that de- scribing a previously seen face impairs recognition of this face. There were three main results: First, a verbal overshadowing effect was obtained both when subjects were provided with and when they gen- erated a description of an earlier seen face. Second, instructing subjects at the time of test to be aware of potentially competing memories did not improve, and may even have worsened, recognition per- formance when the subjects had generated a description of the target face. However, these instructions improved performance and eliminated the verbal overshadowing effect when subjects were provided with someone else’s description of the target face. Third, recognition of the target face was disrupted when subjects described a completely different face, such as their parent’s face or a face of the oppo- site sex. The results are discussed in relation to two potential mechanisms: source confusion between previously encoded visual and verbal representations of the face and a shift in processing of the test faces at recognition.