Is Face Distinctiveness Gender Based?

Baudouin, Jean-Yves; Gallay, Mathieu
August 2006
Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception & Performan;Aug2006, Vol. 32 Issue 4, p789
Academic Journal
Two experiments were carried out to study the role of gender category in evaluations of face distinctiveness. In Experiment 1, participants had to evaluate the distinctiveness and the femininity-masculinity of real or artificial composite faces. The composite faces were created by blending either faces of the same gender (sexed composite faces, approximating the sexed prototypes) or faces of both genders (nonsexed composite faces, approximating the face prototype). The results show that the distinctiveness ratings decreased as the number of blended faces increased. Distinctiveness and gender ratings did not covary for real faces or sexed composite faces, but they did vary for nonsexed composite faces. In Experiment 2, participants were asked to state which of two composite faces, one sexed and one nonsexed, was more distinctive. Sexed composite faces were selected less often. The results are interpreted as indicating that distinctiveness is based on sexed prototypes. Implications for face recognition models are discussed.


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