Domain specificity vs. generality: What upside-down fingerprints can tell us

Young, Freya (2015). Domain specificity vs. generality: What upside-down fingerprints can tell us Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Young, Freya
Thesis Title Domain specificity vs. generality: What upside-down fingerprints can tell us
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2015-10-07
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Jason Tangen
Total pages 99
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Formatted abstract
We are all able to rapidly identify and categorise objects in the world: “that is a tree,” “that is a dog,” “that is my grandmother.” The question is, what perceptual processes enable us to make such judgments? Those who agree with the domain specific view argue that we have a specialised cognitive mechanism that responds specifically to the object we perceive (e.g. a face). On the other hand, those who agree with the domain general view argue that we have a broad cognitive mechanism that responds to our experience with the object (e.g. experience perceiving your grandmother’s face). One phenomenon that is putatively specific to faces is the inversion effect. The aim of this thesis is to evaluate whether the inversion effect generalises to an area of object expertise well-matched to faces in terms of discrimination and experience level. To rule out alternative explanations we first investigated whether the inversion effect can be found in conditions of face matching as well as face memory, and indeed this is what we found. We then compared the performance of expert fingerprint examiners to novices on a matching task for upright and inverted faces and fingerprints. The pattern of data was consistent with a domain general account, fingerprint experts showed an inversion effect for prints, but novices did not. Finally we explored how the magnitude of the inversion effect might change as a function of visual noise in the images. We found a clear association between noise and inversion for faces, but not for prints. In summary, these experiments inform the domain general versus specific debate of face processing by providing (tentative) evidence that the inversion effect generalises as a function of expertise to object categories.
Keyword Fingerprints

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Created: Tue, 29 Mar 2016, 09:19:34 EST by Lisa Perry on behalf of School of Psychology