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Valerie Goffaux, Sanae Okamoto-Barth; Contribution of cardinal orientations to the "Stare-in-the-crowd" effect. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):405. doi: 10.1167/13.9.405.
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Evidence shows that the processing of face identity relies on horizontally-oriented cues, with little contribution of vertically-oriented cues. Besides identity, faces convey a wealth of fundamental social cues such as gaze. We investigated whether the processing of gaze is tuned to horizontal orientation as observed for identity. Participants were presented with arrays of six faces and instructed to search for a target face with either direct gaze (DG) or averted gaze (AG). The "stare-in-the-crowd" effect refers to the observation that DG is more easily detected than AG. Faces were filtered to preserve a 20°-orientation content centered either on horizontal or vertical orientation (H and V condition, respectively). In a third condition, horizontal plus vertical information was preserved (HV) by summing the H and V filtered images. Our results replicate the "stare-in-the-crowd" effect; namely, detecting DG was overall more accurate and faster than detecting AG. More importantly, the "stare-in-the-crowd" effect was significant only for vertically-filtered faces, in trials where a DG target was present. The same pattern was observed on RT. These findings suggest that although horizontal information is central for the processing of face identity, vertical information contributes to the processing of some core social signals conveyed by faces.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013
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