Allen H, Brady N, Tredoux C, 2009, "Perception of ‘best likeness’ to highly familiar faces of self and friend" Perception 38(12) 1821 – 1830
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Perception of ‘best likeness’ to highly familiar faces of self and friend
Hannah Allen, Nuala Brady, Colin Tredoux
Received 28 March 2009, in revised form 8 June 2009; published online 26 November 2009
Abstract. We investigated the idea that our memory for familiar faces involves an accurate representation of their unique spatial configuration and, further, whether this configuration may be caricatured in memory. In separate experimental blocks, thirty-five Irish participants were presented with a series of photographic images of their own face and of the face of a close friend, and were asked to choose the image which looked most like themselves or their friend. Both sets of images included an original full-face colour photograph, and photographic distortions ranging from a highly caricatured (+100%) to a highly anti-caricatured (-100%) version of the original, generated with reference to newly created average male and female Irish faces. Contrary to suggestions that we hold a slightly caricatured version of a familiar face in memory, the mean 'best-likeness' image, calculated across both self and friend trials, was an anti-caricature of -13.88% which was significantly different from 0 (t69=-5.34, p<0.0001). The difference in the mean ‘best-likeness’ image chosen for self (-12.06%) and friend (-15.7%) was not significant (t34=0.715, p=0.48). These results are discussed with reference to our ability to discriminate facial shape, together with the possibility that we idealise the attractiveness of faces of those close to us.
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