Have you ever wondered whether your ability to recognize faces changes during the day? Maybe not but this could be because you might not yet know that our cognitive abilities change during the day as a result of our chronotype. All people can be divided into three different chronotypes; that is, the individual time-of-day preference. In fact, 40% of the population are either an extreme morning or evening type, which means that they are often most productive in the morning or in the evening, respectively. The remaining individuals belong to the intermediate group.
Given this intriguing fact, the goal of our study was to investigate the relationship between face recognition ability and time of day. We expect that the ability to recognize faces is increased for morning people if they are tested during the morning, compared to being tested in the evening. For the evening people we expect to find a similar match between testing time and time-of-day preference. Furthermore, we predict that time spent to make a decision is predictive of accuracy.
This might seem to be a rather abstract topic without any implications for daily life. But hold that though for a minute. Every year about 81.216 burglaries take place in the Netherlands. If indeed we can show that recognition performance changes depending on the time of day then we might have an easy method to improve the accuracy of eyewitness identifications. The eyewitness could then be asked to identify the suspect at their preferred time of the day and may therefore be better able to help solve the crime. And that means that the present work is of crucial relevance for eyewitness testimony.