September 2005
Volume 5, Issue 8
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2005
Accuracy in face recognition: Better performance for face identification with changes in identity and caricature but not with changes in sex
Author Affiliations
  • Isabelle Bülthoff
    Max-Planck-Institut für Biologische Kybernetik, Tübingen, Germany
  • Fiona N. Newell
    Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
Journal of Vision September 2005, Vol.5, 379. doi:10.1167/5.8.379
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      Isabelle Bülthoff, Fiona N. Newell; Accuracy in face recognition: Better performance for face identification with changes in identity and caricature but not with changes in sex. Journal of Vision 2005;5(8):379. doi: 10.1167/5.8.379.

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Abstract

Because we encounter faces of only two sexes but recognize faces of innumerable different identities, it is often implicitly assumed that sex determination is easier than identification in face recognition. Many studies support this assumption. For example, we are very accurate at telling the sex of unfamiliar faces in photographs (Bruce, et al., 1993. Perception, 22, 131–52) and sex categorization is performed more rapidly, on average, than familiarity or identity decisions (Bruyer, Galvez, & Prairial, 1993. British Journal of Psychology, 84, 433–441). The question that we investigated here is how sensitive we are to variations of identity-related features or sex-related features in familiar faces. 38 participants had to pick out the veridical faces of ten familiar work colleagues from amongst distractor faces that were variations of the original faces. Distractor faces varied either in identity, caricature or sex. In the identity face sets, distractor faces were various morphs between the original face and two unfamiliar faces. In the caricature face sets, distractors were various caricatures of the original face. Finally, in the sex face sets, distractor faces were various feminized and masculinized versions of the original face. Participants were most accurate at identifying the original face amongst distractors in the identity sets. They had a tendency to choose positive caricatures over the original faces in caricature sets. However, participants were very poor at finding the original faces in the sex sets. The results suggest that while extracting and processing sex-related information from a face is a comparatively easy task, we do not seem to retain sex-related facial information in memory as accurately as identity-related information. These results have implications for models of face representation and face processing.

Bülthoff, I. Newell, F. N. (2005). Accuracy in face recognition: Better performance for face identification with changes in identity and caricature but not with changes in sex [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 5(8):379, 379a, http://journalofvision.org/5/8/379/, doi:10.1167/5.8.379. [CrossRef]
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