Unfamiliar faces are not faces: Evidence from a matching task

Abstract

It is difficult to match two images of the same unfamiliar face, even under good conditions. Here, we show that there are large individual differences on unfamiliar face matching. Initially, we tried to predict these using tests of visual short-term memory, cognitive style, and perceptual speed. Moderate correlations were produced by various components of these tests. In three other experiments, we found very strong correlations between face matching and inverted face matching on the same test. Finally, we examined potential associations between familiar and unfamiliar face processing. Strong correlations were found between familiar and unfamiliar face processing, but only when the familiar faces were inverted. We conclude that unfamiliar faces are processed for identity in a qualitatively different way than are familiar faces.

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Correspondence to A. Mike Burton.

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Note—This article was accepted by the previous editorial team, when Colin M. MacLeod was Editor.

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Megreya, A.M., Burton, A.M. Unfamiliar faces are not faces: Evidence from a matching task. Memory & Cognition 34, 865–876 (2006). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03193433

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Keywords

  • Face Recognition
  • Face Processing
  • Target Face
  • Perceptual Speed
  • Face Match