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Matching as an index of face familiarity

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An experiment is reported which explores a method of assessing familiarity that does not rely on the overt recognition or identification of faces. Earlier findings (Clutterbuck & Johnston, 2002; Young, Hay, McWeeny, Flude, & Ellis, 1985) have shown that familiar faces can be matched faster on their internal features than unfamiliar faces. This study examines whether familiarization in the form of repeated exposure to novel faces over a 2 day period can facilitate internal feature match performance. Participants viewed each of a set of unfamiliar faces for 1 min in total. At test on the second day previously familiar (famous) faces were matched faster than unfamiliar and familiarized faces. However the familiarized faces were matched faster than the unfamiliar faces. We discuss the use of this task as a means of accessing a measure of familiarity formation and as a means of tracking how faces become familiar.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, UK

Publication date: October 1, 2004


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