Want to avoid identity fraud? Turns out replacing neutral facial expression in a passport photo with an open-mouth smile will do the trick.

A research conducted by the University of York, which focused on finding more ways to improve identification success rate, found out that an image of a smiling person is significantly easier to verify than someone sporting a neutral face.

About The Study

It is extremely hard for people to match two unfamiliar faces in photos, according to the research. This paves way to vital issues concerning authorities to spot someone committing identity fraud. The study also shows that new face-morphing technology can mislead not only the eyes but also smartphone software.

Dr. Mila Mileva, the proponent of the research from the university's Department of Psychology also found out that a photo of a smiling person can easily be matched to another photo of the same individual and can easily be differentiated from someone who is similar-looking.

"Photo ID is a significant part of our lives and yet we know that the human brain has a hard time matching photos of people to other photos and matching photos with the real-life person," said Dr. Mileva.

She also added that the problem of identity fraud is prevalent on all levels and people should do more research in the said area to make a significant impact on the methods of identification.

The study involved a team of 60 people that were ordered to match 60 images of strangers pulling a neutral facial expression with a photo sporting a toothy smile, and a neutral expression photo with a closed-mouth smile photo.

The researchers also asked 34 participants to match photos which only show the lower part of a person's face.

Another study by Javelin Strategy & Research proved that identity fraud is on the rise. In 2017, the number of victims rose to 16.7 million. It is also one of the most common travel scams.

Result Of The Research

Analysis of the results from the study found a 9 percent improvement in the performance of smiling images when comparing two images of the same person, and a 7 percent improvement when comparing images of two different but similar-looking people.

The team also successfully showed that a photo with an open mouth smile can aid people in telling two similar-looking but different people apart — something that is extremely important when reviewing photos for identification.

The research implies that a smiling image used in passport checkpoints, or any establishments that require photo identification, has a better rate of identification success compared to a photo showing neutral expression.