Optimal face recognition performance involves a balance between global and local information processing: Evidence from cultural difference

AbstractIn face recognition, eye gaze to the eye region is reported to be associated with better performance than to the center of a face. Nevertheless, Caucasians and Asians differ in how much they look at the eyes when they scan a face, but have comparable identification performance. To resolve this issue, here we test the hypothesis that optimal face recognition performance involves a balance between global and local face processing. Thus, Asians may benefit from enhancement of local processing and vice versa for Caucasians. We showed that local attention priming using hierarchical letter stimuli led to more eye-focused eye movement patterns compared to global attention priming in both Asians and Caucasians. However, Asians had better performance after local priming than global priming, whereas Caucasian showed the opposite effect. These results suggest that engagement of global/local attention leads to face-center/eye biased eye movements respectively, and optimal recognition performance involves both global and local processing/gaze transitions between the face center and eyes.


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