• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Hairdo can help you escape long arm of law

A CHANGE of hairstyle really could be the best way to escape arrest, Scottish researchers have discovered.

Experiments with photofits show that even subtle mistakes in the shape, length and colour of hair can completely throw crime witnesses.

A team at Stirling University found that witnesses tend to place more reliance on hair than facial features - despite the fact hair is so easy to alter.

The psychologists conclude that police forces might be better off producing photofits of bald suspects than inaccurate images of crooks with hair.

Wigs, hair dye and radical cuts are a staple of the thriller genre. In 2002's The Bourne Identity Matt Damon helps female lead Franka Potente dye her hair from red to black as they evade the authorities.

But the Stirling research, which involved getting volunteers to produce photofits of celebrities, suggests the effort is well worth it.

These were shown to another team who had to identify the famous person.

Slight mistakes in representing the celebrities' hairstyles were often enough to throw the second group off the scent.

Dr Alex McIntyre, of Stirling University's Psychology department, is part of a team examining how people remember faces.

She said: "Your memory and perception tends to be dominated by the hair. You can make a very quick and rapid judgement from hair.

"The witness to the crime might be overly influenced by the hair. It's important to bear in mind, especially with criminals, that they can change their hair or put on a hat."

Contextual targeting label: 

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.