Face familiarity, distinctiveness, and categorical perception

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Angeli, Adriana ; Davidoff, Jules B. ; Valentine, Tim (2008)
  • Publisher: Taylor and Francis

Four experiments with faces support the original interpretation of categorical perception (CP) as only present for familiar categories. Unlike in the results of Levin and Beale (2000), no evidence is found for face identity CP with unfamiliar faces. Novel face identities were shown to be capable of encoding for immediate sorting purposes but the representations utilized do not have the format of perceptual categories. One possibility explored was that a choice of a distinctive face as an end-point in a morphed continuum can spuriously produce effects that resemble CP. Such morphed continua provided unequal psychological responses to equal physical steps though much more so in a better likeness paradigm than for forced-choice recognition. Thus, researchers doing almost the same experiments may produce very different results and come to radically different conclusions.
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