Holistic processing underlies gender judgments of faces

Mintao ZHAO*, William G. HAYWARD

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


In three experiments, we investigated whether holistic processing underlies gender judgments about faces. Chinese participants were asked to make gender judgments for inverted, scrambled, or composite faces. Results showed that judgments were dramatically impaired by these manipulations (as compared with performance for normal upright faces), demonstrating three hallmark effects of holistic face processing that have been observed in perception of face identity. Whether the test faces were Chinese or Caucasian showed no effect on holistic processing of gender perception, in contrast to studies of identity analysis. These results suggest that holistic processing is a general mechanism for different aspects of face perception and are consistent with the idea that physiognomic properties that determine the gender of a face are universal, rather than race specific.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-596
Number of pages6
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Hong Kong Research Grants Council to W.G.H. (HKU4653/05H).


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