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Sex categorization is influenced by facial information about identity


Bülthoff,  I
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Bülthoff, I. (2009). Sex categorization is influenced by facial information about identity. Poster presented at 32nd European Conference on Visual Perception, Regensburg, Germany.

According to Bruce and Young's (1986 British Journal of Psychology 77 305 - 327) classic model of face recognition, sex-related information about a face is accessed independently of information about identity. Therefore familiarity with a face should not influence sex categorization. This issue of independence has remained controversial as it has been supported in some studies and questioned in others. Here we used faces that were presented in two conditions: sex-unchanged and sex-changed. Participants were very familiar with some of the identities. For all participants, the unchanged familiar faces presented congruent identity and sex information while the sex-changed familiar faces presented incongruent identity and sex information. Participants performed a sex categorization task on all familiar and unfamiliar faces presented in the unchanged and sex-changed condition. They were asked to ignore identity and base their responses solely on the sex appearance of the faces. Our results show that participants were slower and less correct for sex-changed than for unchanged familiar faces while those differences did not appear for unfamiliar faces. These results indicate that sex and identity are not independent as participants could not ignore identity information while doing a sex categorization task.