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Journal Article

Faces on Her and His Mind: Female and Likable

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Pavlova, M., Mayer, A., Hösl, F., & Sokolov, A. (2016). Faces on Her and His Mind: Female and Likable. PLoS One, 11(6): e0157636. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0157636.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-F755-0
Faces are a valuable source of non-verbal information for daily life social interaction. Mounting evidence points to gender specificity in face perception. Here we search for the factors that can potentially trigger gender differences in tuning to faces. By using a set of Face-n-Food images slightly bordering on the Giuseppe Arcimboldo style, we examine: (i) whether face resemblance is linked to gender specific face impression, and, if so, whether this association is perceiver gender specific; and (ii) whether images most resembling a face are also most likable for female and male perceivers. First, in a spontaneous recognition task, participants were shown a set of Face-n-Food images in a predetermined order from the least to most resembling a face. Then in a two-alternative forced-choice (2AFC) task, participants judged whether each face appeared for them (i) either female or male (Exp. 1); or (ii) either likable or unlikable (Exp. 2). Remarkably, face resemblance is closely connected to gender specific impressions: images more resembling a face elicit also more female-face responses. This link is not perceiver gender specific as it occurs for both females and males. Moreover, face resemblance is positively linked to face likability, but this holds true only for female perceivers. The findings shed light on gender specificity in tuning to faces, and help to clarify abnormalities of the social brain in neurodevelopmental, psychiatric and psychosomatic disorders.