1979 volume 8(4) pages 431 – 439
doi:10.1068/p080431

Cite as:
Ellis H D, Shepherd J W, Davies G M, 1979, "Identification of familiar and unfamiliar faces from internal and external features: some implications for theories of face recognition" Perception 8(4) 431 – 439

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Identification of familiar and unfamiliar faces from internal and external features: some implications for theories of face recognition

Hadyn D Ellis, John W Shepherd, Graham M Davies

Received 5 September 1978, in revised form 21 May 1979

Abstract. Three experiments are reported in which recognition of faces from whole faces or internal or external features was compared. In the first experiment, where the faces were of famous people, an advantage was found for identification from internal features. In the second experiment involving unfamiliar faces, however, no difference was found in recognition rates when subjects were given the internal or the external features. In a third experiment famous faces were presented and mixed with other famous faces for a recognition test. As in experiment 1, better recognition occurred from internal as compared with external features. It is argued that the internal representation for familiar faces may be qualitatively different from that for faces seen just once. In particular some advantage in feature saliency may accrue to the internal or 'expressive' features of familiar faces. The implications of these results are considered in relation to general theories of face perception and recognition.

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