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