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Asymmetric interference between sex and emotion in face perception.

Atkinson, A.P. and Tipples, J. and Burt, D.M. and Young, A.W. (2005) 'Asymmetric interference between sex and emotion in face perception.', Perception & psychophysics., 67 (7). pp. 1199-1213.


Previous research with speeded-response interference tasks modeled on the Garner paradigm has demonstrated that task-irrelevant variations in either emotional expression or facial speech do not interfere with identity judgments, but irrelevant variations in identity do interfere with expression and facial speech judgments. Sex, like identity, is a relatively invariant aspect of faces. Drawing on a recent model of face processing according to which invariant and changeable aspects of faces are represented in separate neurological systems, we predicted asymmetric interference between sex and emotion classification. The results of Experiment 1, in which the Garner paradigm was employed, confirmed this prediction: Emotion classifications were influenced by the sex of the faces, but sex classifications remained relatively unaffected by facial expression. A second experiment, in which the difficulty of the tasks was equated, corroborated these findings, indicating that differences in processing speed cannot account for the asymmetric relationship between facial emotion and sex processing. A third experiment revealed the same pattern of asymmetric interference through the use of a variant of the Simon paradigm. To the extent that Garner interference and Simon interference indicate interactions at perceptual and response-selection stages of processing, respectively, a challenge for face processing models is to show how the same asymmetric pattern of interference could occur at these different stages. The implications of these findings for the functional independence of the different components of face processing are discussed.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© Copyright 2005 Psychonomic Society, Inc.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:04 November 2010
Date of first online publication:October 2005
Date first made open access:No date available

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