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Bo-Yeong Won, Yuhong V. Jiang; Visual redundancy enhances face identity perception but impairs face emotion perception. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):600. doi: 10.1167/10.7.600.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Nature, artworks, and man-made environments are full of redundant visual information, where an object appears in the context of other identical or similar objects. How is visual perception affected by whether the surrounding items are identical to it, different from it, or absent? This study addresses the role of visual redundancy in the perception of human faces and reveals opposite effects on identity perception and emotion perception. Participants in Experiment 1 identified the gender of a single face presented at fixation. This “target” face was preceded by three types of masked prime displays: a single face at a randomly selected visual quadrant, four identical faces, one in each quadrant, or four different faces, one in each quadrant. All faces had neutral expression. Priming was indexed by faster gender discrimination of the “target” face when it was identical to one of the prime faces, than when it was a different gender. Experiment 1 found that gender priming was greater when the prime display contained four identical faces than when it contained a single face or four different faces, suggesting that face identification was enhanced by redundant visual input. In Experiment 2, participants viewed prime displays containing a single face, four identical faces, or four different faces, but these faces were either neutral or fearful in facial expression. Participants identified the facial expression of a “target” face, whose expression was either consistent or inconsistent with that of the prime display. Facial expression priming was significantly greater when the prime display contained a single face than when it contained four identical faces or four different faces. In fact, priming in the emotion task was eliminated when the prime display contained four identical faces. These results show that visual redundancy facilitates the perception of face identities, but impairs the perception of facial emotions.
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