Perceptual integrality of componential and configural information in faces

Rama Amishav, Ruth Kimchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The relative contribution of componential and configural information to face perception is controversial. We addressed this issue in the present study by examining how componential information and configural information interact during face processing, using Garner's (1974) speeded classification paradigm. When classifying upright faces varying in components (eyes, nose, and mouth) and configural information (intereyes and nose-mouth spacing), observers could not selectively attend to components without being influenced by irrelevant variation in configural information, and vice versa, indicating that componential information and configural information are integral in upright face processing. Performance with inverted faces showed selective attention to components but not to configural information, implying dominance of componential information in processing inverted faces. When faces varied only in components, selective attention to different components was observed in upright and inverted faces, indicating that facial components are perceptually separable. These results provide strong evidence that integrality of componential and configural information, rather than the relative dominance of either, is the hallmark of upright face perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)743-748
Number of pages6
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was partly based on R.A.’s dissertation under the supervision of R.K. and was supported by the Max Wertheimer Minerva Center for Cognitive Processes and Human Performance, University of Haifa (R.K.) and by the Israel Foundation Trustees (R.A.). A portion of this work was presented at the 16th meeting of OPAM (Chicago, November 2008).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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