What Do Theories of Face Perception Tell Us About Object Perception in General? Essay

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What do theories of face perception tell us about object perception in general?


Face perception is the process by which the brain and mind understand and interpret the human face. The cognitive and neural processes in face recognition differ greatly from those observed for object recognition. Both objects and faces are generally considered to be “viewpoint-dependent” meaning that performance in recognition is better when viewed from a familiar viewpoint. However when considering Biederman’s (1987) recognition-by-components theory he found that objects can be recognised equally as easily from all viewpoints. This is due to his belief that objects are recognised from the individual basic shapes that make the whole object;
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The expertise hypothesis states that visual processing of faces only appears “special” and different to the processing involved in object recognition because humans are highly practised in identifying faces. Diamond and Carey (1986) study attempted to show that the recognition processes for objects, that an individual had been trained as an perceptual expert in, would be processed in the same way as faces are known to be processed (holistically), thus proving that face recognition is no different to object recognition.

Diamond and Carey (1986) selected dog experts who were deemed to have high levels of expertise in recognising their breed of dog and tested the inversion, part-whole and composite effect using images of the dogs in an attempt to show that objects of expertise would be processed in the same fashion as faces. Results showed that there was an equally as large inversion effect for the object of expertise (dog) as there was for faces thus supporting their hypothesis that objects of expertise and faces are processed the same way, i.e. holistically. However there is much criticism regarding this study as identified in McKone et al’s (2007) opinion article. Firstly that the results had not been successfully replicated in the 20 years that followed the study which would make the findings unreliable and secondly when McKone et al replicated the study they found no difference between experts and novices for the inversion effect for