1988 volume 17(4) pages 475 – 481

Cite as:
Roberts T, Bruce V, 1988, "Feature saliency in judging the sex and familiarity of faces" Perception 17(4) 475 – 481

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Feature saliency in judging the sex and familiarity of faces

Tony Roberts, Vicki Bruce

Received 7 December 1987, in revised form 20 July 1988

Abstract. Two experiments are reported on the effect of feature masking on judgements of the sex and familiarity of faces. In experiment 1 the effect of masking the eyes, nose, or mouth of famous and nonfamous, male and female faces on response times in two tasks was investigated. In the first, recognition, task only masking of the eyes had a significant effect on response times. In the second, sex-judgement, task masking of the nose gave rise to a significant and large increase in response times. In experiment 2 it was found that when facial features were presented in isolation in a sex-judgement task, responses to noses were at chance level, unlike those for eyes or mouths. It appears that visual information available from the nose in isolation from the rest of the face is not sufficient for sex judgement, yet masking of the nose may disrupt the extraction of information about the overall topography of the face, information that may be more useful for sex judgement than for identification of a face.

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