The association between intelligence and face processing abilities: A conceptual and meta-analytic review

Dana L. WALKER, Romina PALERMO, Zoe CALLIS, Gilles E. GIGNAC*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Whether there is an association between intelligence and face processing ability (i.e., face detection, face perception and face memory) is contentious, with some suggesting a moderate, positive association and others contending there is no meaningful association. The inconsistent results may be due to sample size differences, as well as variability in the quality of intelligence measures administered. The establishment of a moderate, positive correlation between face processing and intelligence would suggest it may be integrated within the Cattell-Horn-Carroll model of intelligence. Additionally, developmental prosopagnosia, a specific impairment of the recognition of facial identity, may be assessable in a manner similar to a learning disability. Consequently, we employed a psychometric meta-analytic approach to estimate the true score correlation between intelligence and face processing ability. Intelligence was positively and significantly correlated with face detection (r’ = 0.20; k = 2, N = 407), face perception (r’ = 0.42, k = 11, N = 2528), and face memory (r’ = 0.26, k = 23, N = 9062). Additionally, intelligence measurement quality moderated positively and significantly the association between intelligence and face memory (β = 0.08). On the basis of both theoretical and empirical considerations, we interpreted the results to suggest that face processing ability may be plausibly conceptualised within the Cattell-Horn-Carroll model of intelligence, in a manner similar to other relatively narrow dimensions of cognitive ability, i.e., associated positively with intelligence, but also distinct (e.g., reading comprehension). Potential clinical implications for the assessment of developmental prosopagnosia are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101718
Number of pages22
JournalIntelligence
Volume96
Early online date8 Dec 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Inc.

Keywords

  • Face detection
  • Face identity
  • Face memory
  • Intelligence
  • Prosopagnosia

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