Perception of an ambiguous figure is affected by own-age social biases

Michael Nicholls, Owen Churches, Tobias Loetscher

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)
    348 Downloads (Pure)


    Although the perception of faces depends on low-level neuronal processes, it is also affected by high-level social processes. Faces from a social in-group, such as people of a similar age, receive more in-depth processing and are processed holistically. To explore whether own-age biases affect subconscious face perception, we presented participants with the young/old lady ambiguous figure. Mechanical Turk was used to sample participants of varying ages from the USA. Results demonstrated that younger and older participants estimated the age of the image as younger and older, respectively. This own-age effect ties in with socio-cultural practices, which are less inclusive towards the elderly. Participants were not aware the study was related to ageing and the stimulus was shown briefly. The results therefore demonstrate that high-level social group processes have a subconscious effect on the early stages of face processing. A neural feedback model is used to explain this interaction.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number12661
    Pages (from-to)1-5
    Number of pages5
    JournalScientific Reports
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2018

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    • face recognition
    • identity
    • social bias


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