Eye movement strategies during face matching.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Although there is a large literature on face recognition, less is known about the process of face matching, i.e., deciding whether two photographs depict the same person. The research described here examines viewers’ strategies for matching faces, and addresses the issue of which parts of a face are important for this task.
Consistent with previous research, several eye-tracking experiments demonstrated a bias to the eye region when looking at faces. In some studies, there was a scanning strategy whereby only one eye on each face was viewed (the left eye on the right face and the right eye on the left face). However, viewing patterns and matching performance could be influenced by manipulating the way the face pair was presented: through face inversion, changing the distance between the two faces and varying the layout.
There was a strong bias to look at the face on the left first, and then to look at the face on the right. A left visual field bias for individual faces has been found in a number of previous studies, but this is the first time it has been reported using pairs of faces in a matching task. The bias to look first at the item on the left was also found when trying to match pairs of similar line drawings of objects and therefore is not specific to face stimuli.
Finally, the experiments in this thesis suggest that the way face pairs are presented can influence viewers’ accuracy on a matching task, as well as the way in which these faces are viewed. This suggests that the layout of face pairs for matching might be important in real world settings, such as the attempt to identify criminals from security cameras.
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