Faces are, arguably, the most important stimulus in our lives. Yet, we understand very little about what information is used to recognize faces. Two theories exist in the literature on this topic. First, it is widely believed that successful face recognition depends on the ability to utilize configural, or holistic, information about the face. Second, many have speculated that attention to the eye region of the face is essential for successful face recognition. However, few studies, none with children, have directly evaluated this relationship by examining individual differences in face processing. Thus, the goal of the following studies was to examine how individual differences in face recognition skills are predicted by configural processing of the face and, in particular, attention to the eye region. Across four experiments, children completed face recognition tasks using an eye tracker, tasks of configural processing, and an object recognition task. Results from Experiments 1 and 2 support the notion that attention to the eye region and configural processing of faces as measured by the Part-Whole Task are predictive of face recognition scores as measured by the Cambridge Face Memory Task for Children. Furthermore, these experiments provide preliminary evidence that attention to the outer areas of the face, such as the forehead, may inhibit face recognition ability. Experiment 3 generally replicated these findings, with a few exceptions, by examining a pre-selected group of children and subsequently comparing high and low performers on the Cambridge Face Memory Task. Finally, Experiment 4 examined six children with developmental prosopagnosia. Results from this experiment suggest that children with prosopagnosia are a very heterogeneous group. The results of these studies generally support three hypotheses: 1. Children who demonstrate greater attention to the eye region perform better on tasks of face recognition, 2. Higher scores on tests of configural face processing predict higher scores on tasks of face recognition, and 3. Children who demonstrate a greater degree of configural face processing are more likely to attend to the eye region of the face (Experiment 2).
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2013. Major: Child Psychology. Advisor: Albert Yonas, Ph.D. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 148 pages, appendices 1-2.
Predicting face recognition skills in children: global processing and attention to the eyes.
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
Content distributed via the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.