Sometimes people have to recognize belongings of close ones that were found in places where, for example, genocides took place. This is done in order to pinpoint a missing person’s last whereabouts and in some cases because the family asks to keep with their belongings. To do this, one part of the process is asking the relatives of the missing person to identify the items. However, in some cases (e.g. the missing people during the last Argentine military dictatorship) these procedures have been put in doubt by the legal system in order to prevent errors such as two or more families recognizing the same item as their own and thus to prevent nonsense re-exposure to traumatic memories. To the best of our knowledge, there is a lack of studies evaluating our performance on recognition of clothes from close ones. It is known that our capacity to correctly recognize items depends on various factors, such as age, time from acquisition, frequency of item exposure, level of stress, sleep, among others.
Here, we will discuss preliminary data of how different factors such as time, age and frequency of use modulate the capacity to correctly and falsely recognize personal items of close ones. These results can enlighten and help the everyday practice of organizations such as the “Argentine Team of Forensic Anthropology”(EAAF) to make decisions about the reliability of the clothing recognition by the victim’s relatives.