How Young/Old Does One Look? Sales Personnel’s and Laypersons’ Estimation of Young People’s Age
Several studies have found that the level of alcohol use among minors both in Europe generally and in Estonia is relatively high. However, we have less knowledge of issues related to age estimations in this field. Therefore, research was conducted to examine how accurate sales personnel in Estonia are in estimating the age of young people and, in addition, to compare salespersons and laypersons (i.e., persons not working in shops that sell food and alcohol) with regard to their ability to make accurate age estimations. For this purpose, 20 salespersons and 20 laypersons participated in an experiment in which they estimated the age of people whose faces were presented to them in images. Salespersons’ estimation of young persons’ age from the photos was more accurate than laypersons’ estimation. However, both groups tended to overestimate the age of the people shown, especially when the focus was on the difference between minors of age 17 and young adults of age 18 or 19. It can be concluded that accurately discriminating between minors’ and adults’ faces by using only facial cues is difficult. One solution for addressing this issue in practice would be to raise the age threshold for asking for ID. While many shops already pursue this approach, it is on a voluntary basis; in Estonia, there is no legal requirement to do so.