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Yaren Koca, Rebekah Corpuz, Chris Oriet; I guess I just have one of those faces: The effect of similar intervening identities on familiarization. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):2262. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.9.2262.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
People can become familiar with a target identity from different photos of the target interspersed among intervening distractor identities. We investigated whether the degree of similarity between a target face and these intervening distractors influences familiarization. Face space theory makes the clear prediction that similar identities would be encoded closely together in face space, creating interference from similar faces that hinders familiarization. In contrast, recent work showing an important role for idiosyncratic variability in identity learning suggests that increasing the similarity of irrelevant intervening distractors should encourage viewers to attend to the target’s features that are most relevant for distinguishing it from the distractors, leading to a more refined and precise representation that would facilitate familiarization. Observers were trained with multiple photographs of a target identity presented among encounters with distractor identities that were morphed with the target face in varying percentages to achieve either high, medium, or low similarity to the target. Upon completing the training session, observers were given a matching task to test their familiarization with the target. Preliminary results revealed that accuracy in the matching task decreased as the similarity between the target and the intervening identities increased, providing support for the face space theory. Our results suggest that when learning a newly encountered target face, training with intervening distractors that highly resemble the target hinders the familiarization process.
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