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Unaware Person Recognition from the Body when Face Identification Fails



P J. Phillips, Rice Allyson, Vaidehi Natu, Xiabo An, Alice O'Toole


How do we recognize someone when the face fails? We show that people rely on the body, but are unaware of this. State-of-the-art face recognition algorithms were used to select images of people with no useful identity information in the face. Human recognition of the face alone in these cases was nearly random, but recognition using the whole person was accurate. Identification of the person without the face was identical to recognition of the whole person. Paradoxically, people reported strong reliance on facial features over other non-internal face and body features in making identity decisions. Eye movements indicated otherwise, with gaze duration and fixations shifting adaptively toward the body and away from the face when the body was a better indicator of identity than the face. This shift occurred with no cost to accuracy or time. Human identity processing may be partially inaccessible to conscious awareness.
Psychological Science


Phillips, P. , Allyson, R. , Natu, V. , An, X. and O'Toole, A. (2013), Unaware Person Recognition from the Body when Face Identification Fails, Psychological Science (Accessed June 24, 2024)


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Created November 4, 2013, Updated February 19, 2017