Face Processing and Sex Categorization: A Behavioural and Eye-Tracking Study
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Effects of gaze direction, head position, and inverted stimulus orientation were investigated on categorizations of the sex of photographs of human face stimuli as demonstrated by behavioural (accuracy, RTs) and eye-tracking measures. Male and female observers participated. A morphing procedure produced stimuli of varying degrees of sexual-ambiguity. Results indicated a bias to categorize sexually-ambiguous faces as male and decreased task efficiency with more sexually-ambiguous stimuli. Optimal processing efficiency occurred when gaze direction and head position were directionally congruent, and this effect disappeared with more sexually-ambiguous stimuli. Head position aided processing of female faces shown in ¾ view and male faces shown in frontal view. Overall, female participants made categorization decisions faster than male participants and females were more affected by changes in gaze direction and head position. Lastly, eye movement recordings supported the theory of configural processing for upright faces and a shift to feature-based processing for inverted faces.