Memory & Cognition

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 45–49 | Cite as

Memory for faces: Are caricatures better than photographs?

  • Barbara Tversky
  • Daphna Baratz


Because photographs capture an individual at a moment in time, they contain fleeting features as well as more stable ones. Caricature line drawings, however, include stable features and emphasize distinctive ones. As such, caricatures are closer to schematic memory representations than are photographs. Three experiments using faces of public figures test the hypothesis that caricatures yield better performance than do photographs. Contrary to hypothesis, photographs lead to better performance than do line-drawing caricatures in three different tasks: name recall, face recognition, and name-face verification reaction time. Photographs are also rated as more characteristic or representative of their targets than are line-drawing caricatures.


Face Recognition Line Drawing Memory Representation Category Member Public Figure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Attneave, F. (1954). Some informational aspects of visual perception.Psychological Review,61, 183–193.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bahrick, H. P., &Boucher, B. (1968). Retention of visual and verbal codes of the same stimuli.Journal of Experimental Psychology,78, 417–422.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bartlett, F. C. (1932).Remembering. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Biederman, I. (1981). On the semantics of a glance at a scene. In M. Kubovy & J. R. Pomerantz (Eds.),Perceptual organization. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  5. Gibson, E. J. (1969).Principles of perceptual learning and development. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  6. Goldman, M., &Hagen, M. A. (1978). The forms of caricature: Physiognomy and political bias.Studies on the Anthropology of Visual Communication,6, 30–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hagen, M. A., &Perkins, D. (1983). A refutation of the hypothesis of the superfidelity of caricatures relative to photographs.Perception,12, 55–61.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Kintsch, W. (1970). Models for free recall and recognition. In D. Norman (Ed.),Models of human memory. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  9. Light, L. L., Kayra-Stuart, F., &Hollander, S. (1979). Recognition memory for typical and unusual faces.Journal of Experimental Psychology,5, 212–228.Google Scholar
  10. Loftus, G., &Bell, S. M. (1975). Two types of information in picture memory.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory,104, 103–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Minsky, M. (1975). A framework for representing knowledge. In P. H. Winston (Ed.),The psychology of computer vision. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  12. Nelson, T. O., Metzler, J., &Reed, D. A. (1974). Role of details in the long-term recognition of pictures and verbal descriptions.Journal of Experimental Psychology,102, 184–186.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Perkins, D. (1975). A definition of caricature and caricature and recognition.Studies in the Anthropology of Communication,2, 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Perkins, D. N., &Hagen, M. A. (1980). Convention, context, and caricature. In M. A. Hagen (Ed.),The perception of pictures: Vol. I. Alberti’s window: The projective model of pictorial information. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  15. Posner, M. I., &Keele, S. W. (1968). On the genesis of abstract ideas.Journal of Experimental Psychology,77, 353–363.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Reed, S. K. (1973).Psychological processes in pattern recognition. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  17. Rock, I., Halper, F., &Clayton, T. (1972). The perception and recognition of complex figures.Cognitive Psychology,3, 655–673.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Rosch, E. (1978). Principles of categorization. In E. Rosch & B. B. Lloyd (Eds.),Cognition and categorization. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  19. Rosch, E., &Mervis, C. (1975). Family resemblances: Studies in the internal structure of categories.Cognitive Psychology,7, 573–605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rosch, E., Mervis, C., Gray, W., Johnson, D., &Boyes-Braem, P. (1976). Basic objects in natural categories.Cognitive Psychology,6, 382–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Rumelhart, D. E. (1981). Schemata: The building blocks of cognition. In R. Spiro, B. Bruce, & W. Brewer (Eds.),Theoretical issues in reading comprehension. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  22. Ryan, T. A., &Schwartz, C. B. (1956). Speed of perception as a function of mode of representations.American Journal of Psychology,69, 60–69.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Tversky, B. (1973). Encoding processes in recognition and recall.Cognitive Psychology,5, 275–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Tversky, B. (1974). Eye fixations in prediction of recognition and recall.Memory & Cognition,2, 275–278.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Tversky
    • 1
  • Daphna Baratz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyStanford UniversityStanford

Personalised recommendations