September 2017
Volume 17, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2017
Unconsciously attracted: invisible attractive faces orient visual attention.
Author Affiliations
  • Shao-Min (Sean) Hung
    Neuroscience and Behavioral Disorders Program, Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore
  • Chih-Hsuan Nieh
    Department of Psychology, National University of Singapore
  • Po-Jang (Brown) Hsieh
    Neuroscience and Behavioral Disorders Program, Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore
Journal of Vision August 2017, Vol.17, 914. doi:10.1167/17.10.914
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      Shao-Min (Sean) Hung, Chih-Hsuan Nieh, Po-Jang (Brown) Hsieh; Unconsciously attracted: invisible attractive faces orient visual attention.. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):914. doi: 10.1167/17.10.914.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Past research has proven human's extraordinary ability to extract information from a face in the 
blink of an eye, including its emotion, gaze direction, and attractiveness. However, it remains elusive whether facial attractiveness can be processed and influences our behaviors in the complete absence 
of conscious awareness. Here we demonstrate unconscious processing of facial attractiveness with three distinct approaches. In Experiment 1, the time taken for faces to break interocular suppression was measured. The results showed that attractive faces enjoyed the privilege of breaking suppression and reaching consciousness earlier. In Experiment 2, we further showed that attractive faces had lower visibility thresholds, again suggesting that facial attractiveness could be processed more easily to
 reach consciousness. Crucially, in Experiment 3, a significant decrease of accuracy on an orientation discrimination task subsequent to an invisible attractive face showed that attractive faces, albeit suppressed and invisible, still exerted an effect by orienting attention. This effect disappeared with inverted faces, suggesting that it was not driven by low-level local facial features. Taken together, for the first time, we show that facial attractiveness can be processed in the complete absence of consciousness, and an unconscious attractive face is still capable of directing our attention.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017

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