The face-in-the-crowd effect: When angry faces are just cross(es)

Coelho, Carlos M., Cloete, Steven and Wallis, Guy (2010) The face-in-the-crowd effect: When angry faces are just cross(es). Journal of Vision, 10 1: 1-14. doi:10.1167/10.1.7

Author Coelho, Carlos M.
Cloete, Steven
Wallis, Guy
Title The face-in-the-crowd effect: When angry faces are just cross(es)
Journal name Journal of Vision   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1534-7362
Publication date 2010-01-13
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1167/10.1.7
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 10
Issue 1
Start page 1
End page 14
Total pages 14
Editor Andrew B. Watson
Alice O'Donnell
Place of publication Rockville, MD, U.S.A.
Publisher Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
Language eng
Subject 1109 Neurosciences
1113 Ophthalmology and Optometry
1702 Cognitive Sciences
Formatted abstract
A common theme running through much of the visual recognition literature is that faces are special. Many studies now describe evidence for the idea that faces are processed in a dedicated center in cortex. Studies have also argued for the presence of evolutionarily expedient pathways dedicated to the processing of certain facial expressions. Evidence for this proposal comes largely from visual search tasks which have established that threatening expressions are more rapidly detected than other expressions: the 'face-in-the-crowd effect'. One open criticism of this effect is that it may be due to low-level visual artifacts, rather than biological preparedness. One attempt at controlling low-level differences has been to use schematic line-drawing versions of faces. This study aimed to discover if there might be alternative issues with schematic stimuli. The first study replicated the face-in-the-crowd threat advantage for schematic faces, but also measured a comparable effect using stimuli comprised of obliquely oriented lines. Similar results were achieved with these stimuli rotated, which had the effect of removing any residual resemblance to a face. The results suggest that low-level features probably underlie the face-in-the-crowd effect described for schematic face images, thereby undermining evidence for a search advantage for specific facial expressions.
Keyword Phobias
Visual search
Facial Expressions
Emotional Faces
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
Queensland Brain Institute Publications
School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 28 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 11 Apr 2010, 10:02:57 EST