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New paper on face perception & headscarves by Dr Toseeb, Dr Bryant & Dr Keeble

Published: 02/10/14

New paper on face perception and headscarves by Dr Umar Toseeb, Dr Ellie Bryant and Dr David Keeble:


The headscarf conceals hair and other external features of a head (such as the ears). It therefore may have implications for the way in which such faces are perceived. Images of faces with hair (H) or alternatively, covered by a headscarf (HS) were used in three experiments. In Experiment 1 participants saw both H and HS faces in a yes/no recognition task in which the external features either remained the same between learning and test (Same) or switched (Switch). Performance was similar for H and HS faces in both the Same and Switch condition, but in the Switch condition it dropped substantially compared to the Same condition. This implies that the mere presence of the headscarf does not reduce performance, rather, the change between the type of external feature (hair or headscarf) causes the drop in performance. In Experiment 2, which used eye-tracking methodology, it was found that almost all fixations were to internal regions, and that there was no difference in the proportion of fixations to external features between the Same and Switch conditions, implying that the headscarf influenced processing by virtue of extrafoveal viewing. In Experiment 3, similarity ratings of the internal features of pairs of HS faces were higher than pairs of H faces, confirming that the internal and external features of a face are perceived as a whole rather than as separate components.

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