Short article One's own face is hard to ignore

One’s own face possesses two properties that make it prone to grab attention: It is a face, and, in addition, it is a self-referential stimulus. The question of whether the self-face is actually an especially attention-grabbing stimulus was addressed by using a face– name interference paradigm. We investigated whether interference from a flanking self-face on the processing of a target classmate’s name was stronger than interference from a classmate’s flanking face on the processing of one’s own name as the target. In a control condition a third familiar face served as the flanker for both decisions from the participant’s own name and from the classmate’s name. The presentation of the self-face as a flanker produced significantly more interference on the identification of a classmate’s name than the presentation of that classmate’s face did on the identification of one’s own name. This result was due to the interfering power of the self-face and not to a particular resistance of one’s name to interfering facial stimuli. We argue that the emotional value or the high familiarity of one’s own face may explain its attention-grabbing property.
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