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Face gender is not perceived categorically


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

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Bülthoff, I. (2002). Face gender is not perceived categorically. Poster presented at 5. Tübinger Wahrnehmungskonferenz (TWK 2002), Tübingen, Germany.

In previous studies, we investigated whether male and female faces are perceived as distinct categories at the perceptual level and found no evidence of categorical perception using various discrimination tasks. In the present study we tested whether categorical perception of our stimuli might become apparent with yet another discrimination task, a sequential same-different task. The face stimuli used in all our experiments were derived from a database of 200 3D-laser scans of male and female faces ( Series of 3D-morphs were computed between individual male and female faces using the method of Blanz Vetter (1999). Additionally, all faces of the database were used to compute average male and female faces to generate another series of morphs which was devoid of any individual features. One prediction of categorical perception is that two face stimuli that belong to different gender categories should be easier to discriminate than two face stimuli belonging to the same gender. In all our studies including the present one, most face pairs that straddle the gender category were not more easily discriminated than same category pairs. Thus, despite the use of different discrimination tasks, we found no categorical effect for face gender with our face stimuli, even when exemplar specific effects are eliminated as it is the case with average faces. We will discuss these results and compare them to the conflicting results of Campanella et al. (2001) who carried out similar experiments with different morphing techniques