Self-face recognition: asymmetries and individual differences

Felisberti, F M and Gorodetski, K (2011) Self-face recognition: asymmetries and individual differences. In: ECVP 11 - 34th European Conference on Visual Perception; 28 Aug - 01 Sep 2011, Toulouse, France. ISSN (print) 0301-0066


The ability to recognize our own face contributes to self-awareness, as it helps the construction and retrieval of a mental representation of ourselves that is different from others. Yet surprisingly little is known about self-face processing. In this study the mental representation of our own faces was investigated with a new paradigm. The area size of facial features (eyes, nose, mouth and chin) was manipulated individually or simultaneously to compare featural vs configural processing. Participants were asked to indicate which of two images showed their face as remembered (unaltered face vs size morphs) or to indicate which of the two images they liked most. Self-faces were easier to discriminate when presented to the left visual, pointing to a right hemisphere bias, and when facial distortions were configural rather than featural. About 40% of the thirty-five Caucasian participants preferred their faces with smaller noses, but preferred their unaltered eyes and mouths. Large individual differences in levels of self-face recognition were observed, pointing to a mental representation of self-faces relatively tolerant to error for featural changes. Such tolerance could allow the averaging of self-images from different viewpoints and periods of life, for example, to maintain a consistent facial identity.

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