Culture shapes how we look at faces

Blais, C., Jack, R. E. , Scheepers, C., Fiset, D. and Caldara, R. (2008) Culture shapes how we look at faces. PLoS ONE, 3(8), e3022. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003022) (PMID:18714387) (PMCID:PMC2515341)

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Background: Face processing, amongst many basic visual skills, is thought to be invariant across all humans. From as early as 1965, studies of eye movements have consistently revealed a systematic triangular sequence of fixations over the eyes and the mouth, suggesting that faces elicit a universal, biologically-determined information extraction pattern. Methodology/Principal Findings: Here we monitored the eye movements of Western Caucasian and East Asian observers while they learned, recognized, and categorized by race Western Caucasian and East Asian faces. Western Caucasian observers reproduced a scattered triangular pattern of fixations for faces of both races and across tasks. Contrary to intuition, East Asian observers focused more on the central region of the face. Conclusions/Significance: These results demonstrate that face processing can no longer be considered as arising from a universal series of perceptual events. The strategy employed to extract visual information from faces differs across cultures.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Caldara, Professor Roberto and Scheepers, Dr Christoph and Jack, Professor Rachael
Authors: Blais, C., Jack, R. E., Scheepers, C., Fiset, D., and Caldara, R.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN (Online):1932-6203
Published Online:20 August 2008
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2008 The Authors
First Published:First published in PLoS One 3(8): e3022
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
449881Social interaction - a cognitive-neurosciences approachSimon GarrodEconomic & Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/E020933/1Cognitive Neuroimaging & Neuroengineering Technologies