Individual differences in self-face recognition

Felisberti, F M (2012) Individual differences in self-face recognition. In: AVA Christmas Meeting; 18 Dec 2012, London, U.K.. (Unpublished)


As we see our faces only indirectly, self-face recognition (SFR) requires efficient multisensory integration. Little is known about the mental representation of one’s face, even though SFR is a hallmark of reflexive self-consciousness. A new paradigm was used to explore SFR and investigate how well we know our own facial features: participants (N=35; 25 females) chose which of two selfface images was their veridical one (veridical image vs. image with eye, mouth and nose size digitally manipulated) and then which of those two images they liked most. The study provides evidence that recognition was better when veridical self-faces were paired with self-face ‘clones’ with larger rather than smaller facial features. Accuracy improved further when the features were enlarged concurrently as opposed to separately. Smaller noses and larger eyes were preferred and participants manipulate their self-images accordingly. Large individual differences and an asymmetrical self-face representation were common. The results indicated a certain tolerance for error in self-face recognition, which might be required to maintain a consistent facial identity during one’s life span. Surprisingly, the preference for neotenous self-facial features points to the internalisation of notions of attractiveness often desired in possible partners.

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