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Nicolas Davidenko; Silhouetted face profiles: A new methodology for face perception research. Journal of Vision 2007;7(4):6. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/7.4.6.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
We present a new methodology for constructing face stimuli for psychological experiments based on silhouetted face profiles. Face silhouettes carry a number of theoretical and methodological advantages compared to more complex face stimuli and lend themselves to a simple yet powerful parameterization. In five behavioral studies, we show that face silhouettes are processed like regular face stimuli: They provide enough information for accurate gender judgments ( Study 1), age estimations ( Study 2), and reliable and cross-valid attractiveness ratings ( Study 3). Furthermore, face silhouettes elicit an inversion effect ( Study 4) and allow for remarkably accurate cross-identification with front-view photographs ( Study 5). We then describe a shape-based parameterization that relies on a small set of landmark points and show that face silhouettes can be effectively represented in a 20-dimensional “silhouette face space” ( Study 6). We show that in this physical space, distance from the center of the space corresponds to perceived distinctiveness ( Study 7), confirming a key axiom in the formulation of the face space model. Finally, we discuss straightforward applications of the face silhouette methodology and address some limitations.
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