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Holistic gender perception for both own-race and other-race faces

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Zhao, M., & Hayward, W. (2009). Holistic gender perception for both own-race and other-race faces. Poster presented at 9th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2009), Naples, FL, USA.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-12F5-4
It has been well documented that faces are processed holistically; nonetheless, this conclusion is primarily based on studies of facial identity processing. Whether or not identity-independent aspects of face processing (e.g., gender perception) show similar holistic effects has not been clearly established. Here we tested the role of holistic processing in the perception of face gender by selectively disrupting holistic face processing in a number of ways. First, we found that gender judgments for both own- and other-race faces were dramatically decreased when faces were inverted. Furthermore, the decrement did not result from a difficulty in processing inverted face features, because scrambling a face into parts, which left upright feature processing unaffected, produced a similar disruption in gender perception to inversion. More importantly, gender perception also showed the face composite effect. Judging the gender of the top half of a face was more severely disrupted when it was fused together with a bottom half face of a different gender than when not, demonstrating further evidence for holistic gender processing. Finally, gender perception was more severely affected by scrambling of a face, which selectively disrupted the processing of holistic face information, than by blurring a face, which selectively disrupted the processing of featural information, suggesting that gender perception relies more on holistic than part-based face processing. Expertise with faces of one's own race, in contrast to its role in identity processing, affected neither the overall performance nor the holistic processing effect on gender perception. All these findings indicate that the processing of face gender is holistic in nature, and is similar for both own-race and other-race faces.