The relative dominance of component and configural properties in face processing is a controversial issue. We examined this issue by testing whether the discrimin-ability of components predicts the discrimination of faces with similar versus dissimilar configurations. Discrimination of faces with similar configurations was determined by components discriminability, indicating independent processing of facial components. The presence of configural variation had no effect on discriminating faces with highly discriminable components, suggesting that discrimination was based on the components. The presence of configural variation, however, facilitated the discrimination of faces with more difficult-to-discriminate components, above and beyond what would be predicted by the configural or componential discriminability, indicating interactive processing. No effect of configural variation was observed in discriminating inverted faces. These results suggest that both component and configural properties contribute to the processing of upright faces and no property necessarily dominates the other. Upright face discrimination can rely on components, configural properties, or interactive processing of component and configural properties, depending on the information available and the discriminability of the properties. Inverted faces are dominated by componential processing. The finding that interactive processing of component and configural properties surfaced when the properties were of similar, not very high discriminability, suggests that such interactive processing may be the dominant form of face processing in everyday life.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Please address all correspondence to Ruth Kimchi, Department of Psychology, University of Haifa, Haifa 31905, Israel. E-mail: email@example.com This research was supported partly by Max Wertheimer Minerva Center for Cognitive Processes and Human Performance, University of Haifa, and a grant from the Research Authority, University of Haifa, to RK, and partly by a grant from Israel Foundation Trustees to RA. We thank Hanna Strominger for programming assistance and Roni Raz and Allegra Dan for assistance in data collection.
- Configural and holistic processing
- Configural properties
- Face processing
- Facial components
- Interactive processing of component and configural properties
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Cognitive Neuroscience