Becoming a Face Expert Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Expertise in recognizing facial identity, and, in particular, sensitivity to subtle differences in the spacing among facial features, improves into adolescence. To assess the influence of experience, we tested adults and 8-year-olds with faces differing only in the spacing of facial features. Stimuli were human adult, human 8-year-old, and monkey faces. We show that adults' expertise is shaped by experience: They were 9% more accurate in seeing differences in the spacing of features in upright human faces than in upright monkey faces. Eight-year-olds were 14% less accurate than adults for both human and monkey faces (Experiment 1), and their accuracy for human faces was not higher for children's faces than for adults' faces (Experiment 2). The results indicate that improvements in face recognition after age 8 are not related to experience with human faces and may be related to general improvements in memory or in perception (e.g., hyperacuity and spatial integration).

publication date

  • November 2006