Beauty hinders attention switch in change detection: the role of facial attractiveness and distinctiveness.

Chen, W., Liu, C. and Nakabayashi, K., 2012. Beauty hinders attention switch in change detection: the role of facial attractiveness and distinctiveness. PLoS One, 7 (2).

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DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032897

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Recent research has shown that the presence of a task-irrelevant attractive face can induce a transient diversion of attention from a perceptual task that requires covert deployment of attention to one of the two locations. However, it is not known whether this spontaneous appraisal for facial beauty also modulates attention in change detection among multiple locations, where a slower, and more controlled search process is simultaneously affected by the magnitude of a change and the facial distinctiveness. Using the flicker paradigm, this study examines how spontaneous appraisal for facial beauty affects the detection of identity change among multiple faces. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Participants viewed a display consisting of two alternating frames of four faces separated by a blank frame. In half of the trials, one of the faces (target face) changed to a different person. The task of the participant was to indicate whether a change of face identity had occurred. The results showed that (1) observers were less efficient at detecting identity change among multiple attractive faces relative to unattractive faces when the target and distractor faces were not highly distinctive from one another; and (2) it is difficult to detect a change if the new face is similar to the old. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The findings suggest that attractive faces may interfere with the attention-switch process in change detection. The results also show that attention in change detection was strongly modulated by physical similarity between the alternating faces. Although facial beauty is a powerful stimulus that has well-demonstrated priority, its influence on change detection is easily superseded by low-level image similarity. The visual system appears to take a different approach to facial beauty when a task requires resource-demanding feature comparisons.

Item Type:Article
ISSN:1932-6203
Uncontrolled Keywords:Adolescent ; Adult ; Attention ; Beauty ; Cues ; Face ; Female ; Humans ; Male ; Pattern Recognition, Visual ; Reproducibility of Results ; Young Adult
Subjects:UNSPECIFIED
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:24000
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:17 Jun 2016 14:13
Last Modified:10 Aug 2016 10:35

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