Integrative processing of invariant aspects of faces : Effect of gender and race processing on identity analysis

Mintao ZHAO*, William G. HAYWARD

*Corresponding author for this work

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

14 Citations (Scopus)


While separation of face identity and expression processing is favored by many face perception models, how the visual system analyzes identity and other face properties remains elusive. Here we investigated whether identity analysis is independent of or influenced by automatic processing of face gender and race. Participants searched for a target face among distractor faces whose gender or race was either the same as or different from the target face. Visual search was faster and more accurate when target and distractor faces differed in gender or race property than when not. The effect persisted for identification of both familiar and novel faces, and cannot be attributed to the low-level physical properties of stimuli or the earlier extraction of face gender/race information before identification. Together with complementary findings showing effects of identity analysis on gender and race categorization, these results indicate that invariant face properties are processed in an integrative way: visual analysis ofone property involves, and is therefore affected by, automatic processing of the others. Implications for current theoretical models of face perception are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This research was supported by grants from the Hong Kong Research Grants Council to William G. Hayward (HKU744008 and HKU744911).


  • Face identification
  • Face perception
  • Gender categorization
  • Invariant face property
  • Race categorization


Dive into the research topics of 'Integrative processing of invariant aspects of faces : Effect of gender and race processing on identity analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this