Social categorization influences face perception and face memory

In Andy Calder, Gillian Rhodes, Mark Johnson & Jim Haxby (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Face Perception. Oxford University Press (2011)
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Abstract

Contained in the face is a vast body of social information, both fixed and flexible. Across multiple lines of converging evidence it has become increasingly clear that face processing is subject to one of the most potent and best understood of social cognitive phenomena: social categorization. This article reviews this research at the juncture of social psychology and face perception showing the interplay between social categorization and face processing. It lays out evidence indicating that social categories are extracted easily from faces, suggesting that the effects of social categories can occur quickly and unintentionally. Recent evidence that social categories can affect perception of both invariant and variant facial characteristics is discussed. Finally, the article summarizes recent evidence indicating that the motivational consequences of social categories can affect which faces are remembered and how faces are processed.

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Michael Bernstein
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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