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Brenda M. Stoesz, Lorna S. Jakobson; The influence of processing style on face perception. Journal of Vision 2008;8(6):1138. doi: 10.1167/8.6.1138.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
A wealth of evidence suggests that face processing typically involves global (holistic) analysis but that, under some circumstances (e.g., when viewing inverted or fragmented faces), a feature-based analysis is undertaken (e.g., Farah et al., 1995). This approach may also be used when viewers process incongruent (McGurk) audiovisual stimuli; under these circumstances, viewers tend to focus disproportionately on the mouth (Paré et al., 2003). The purpose of the present experiments was to see if individual differences in processing style predict performance on tasks in which feature-based analysis of faces is likely to occur. Processing style was assessed with the Group Embedded Figures Test (GEFT, Witkin et al., 1971); high scores on this test indicate a local processing bias, while low scores indicate a global processing bias (Ellis, 1996). In the first experiment, participants completed the GEFT and a face matching task in which they were required to match a target face to one of two choice faces. The choice faces were always in the same orientation as the target, but could be shown from the same or a different viewpoint. Local processors tended to be more accurate than global processors at matching inverted (but not upright) faces; they were also more accurate at matching a target face to a choice face differing in viewing angle by 90 degrees. In the full sample, GEFT scores were positively correlated (r = .36, p = .046) with accuracy scores for matching inverted faces differing in viewing angle by 90 degrees. In the second experiment, we examined the relationship between processing style and the strength of the McGurk effect. In some conditions, local processors showed a larger McGurk effect than global processors. Together, these results lend support to the idea that individual differences in processing style affect performance with certain types of face stimuli.
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