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  Sex Matters When You Ask the Right Question: What Affects Eye Movements in Face Comparison Tasks?

Armann, R., & Bülthoff, I. (2007). Sex Matters When You Ask the Right Question: What Affects Eye Movements in Face Comparison Tasks?. Poster presented at 10th Tübinger Wahrnehmungskonferenz (TWK 2007), Tübingen, Germany.

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 Creators:
Armann, R1, 2, Author           
Bülthoff, I1, 2, Author           
Affiliations:
1Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society, ou_1497797              
2Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society, Spemannstrasse 38, 72076 Tübingen, DE, ou_1497794              

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 Abstract: Knowing where people look in a face provides an objective insight onto the information entering
the visual system and into the cognitive processes involved in face perception. Eye-tracking
studies on face perception have mostly investigated observers’ viewing behavior when studying
single faces. However, in day-to-day situations, humans also compare faces or match a person’s
face to a photograph. During comparison, facial information remains visually accessible,
freeing observers from time and encoding constraints [1]. Here, we recorded eye movements of
human participants while they compared two faces presented simultaneously. We used (i) two
different tasks (discrimination or categorization), and (ii) faces differing either in identity or in
sex. In addition, we varied (iii) task difficulty, i.e. the similarity of the two faces in a pair. Eye
movements to previously defined areas of interest (AOIs) on the faces were analyzed in terms
of frequency, duration and the temporal pattern of fixations made. We found that the eyes were
fixated most often in the discrimination tasks (37 of all fixations) but the nose in the categorization
task (34.5), while the total number of fixations increased with task difficulty. Faces
differing in sex were more difficult to discriminate than faces differing in identity (63 versus
76 correct responses), which was also reflected in more fixations to face pairs differing in
sex (14.4 versus 11.8 fixations per trial). With increasing task difficulty, fixations to only some
AOIs increased, in accordance with the literature (more to the eyes in the sex and more over
all areas in the identity discrimination tasks; [2]). Unexpectedly, we found a striking effect of
tasks on performance measures, as over 80 of participants could detect the more feminine of
two faces (categorization task) even at the most similar level, but for the same face pairs their
performance in a discrimination task was less than 30 correct. Another interesting finding
is that observers mostly compared the inner halves of the two faces of a pair, instead of the
corresponding features (e.g., the left eye of the left face with the left eye of the right face). This
viewing behavior remained the same in a control experiment where participants’ head was not
fixed. Quite surprisingly, female participants fixated significantly more often the eyes of the
face stimuli than male participants, but only when the sex of the faces was a relevant feature in
the task.

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 Dates: 2007-07
 Publication Status: Published in print
 Pages: -
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Type: -
 Identifiers: BibTex Citekey: 4881
 Degree: -

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Title: 10th Tübinger Wahrnehmungskonferenz (TWK 2007)
Place of Event: Tübingen, Germany
Start-/End Date: 2007-07-27 - 2007-07-29

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Title: 10th Tübinger Perception Conference: TWK 2007
Source Genre: Proceedings
 Creator(s):
Bülthoff, HH1, Editor           
Chatziastros, A1, Editor           
Mallot, HA, Editor           
Ulrich, R, Editor
Affiliations:
1 Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society, ou_1497797            
Publ. Info: Kirchentellinsfurt, Germany : Knirsch
Pages: - Volume / Issue: - Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 108 Identifier: ISBN: 3-927091-77-4