Allocentric kin recognition is not affected by facial inversion

Maria F. Dal Martello, Lisa M. DeBruine, Laurence T. Maloney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Typical judgments involving faces are disrupted by inversion, with the Thatcher illusion serving as a compelling example. In two experiments, we examined how inversion affects allocentric kin recognition-the ability to judge the degree of genetic relatedness of others. In the first experiment, participants judged whether pairs of photographs of children portrayed siblings or unrelated children. Half of the pairs were siblings, half were unrelated. In three experimental conditions, photographs were viewed in upright orientation, flipped around a horizontal axis, or rotated 180°. Neither rotation nor flipping had any detectable effect on allocentric kin recognition. In the second experiment, participants judged pairs of photographs of adult women. Half of the pairs were sisters, half were unrelated. We again found no significant effect of facial inversion. Unlike almost all other face judgments, judgments of kinship from facial appearance do not rely on perceptual cues disrupted by inversion, suggesting that they rely more on spatially localized cues rather than "holistic"cues. We conclude that kin recognition is not simply a byproduct of other face perception abilities. We discuss the implications for cue combination models of other facial judgments that are affected by inversion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2015


  • Face inversion effect
  • Face perception
  • Kin recognition
  • Signal detection theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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