Describing a face in words can either hinder or help subsequent face recognition. Here, the authors examined the relationship between the benefit from verbally describing a series of faces and the same-race advantage (SRA) whereby people are better at recognizing unfamiliar faces from their own race as compared with those from other races. Verbalization and the SRA influenced face recognition independently, as evident on both behavioral (Experiment 1) and eye movement measures (Experiment 2). The findings indicate that verbalization and the SRA each recruit different types of configural processing, with verbalization modulating face learning and the SRA modulating both face learning and recognition. Eye movement patterns demonstrated greater feature sampling for describing as compared with not describing faces and for other-race as compared with same-race faces. In both cases, sampling of the eyes, nose, and mouth played a major role in performance. The findings support a single process account whereby verbalization can influence perceptual processing in a flexible and yet fundamental way through shifting one's processing orientation.
|Number of pages||17|
|Journal||Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2012|