Investigating the early stages of person perception: The asymmetry of social categorization by sex vs. age

Jasmin Cloutier, Jonathan B. Freeman, Nalini Ambady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Early perceptual operations are central components of the dynamics of social categorization. The wealth of information provided by facial cues presents challenges to our understanding of these early stages of person perception. The current study aimed to uncover the dynamics of processing multiply categorizable faces, notably as a function of their gender and age. Using a modified four-choice version of a mouse-tracking paradigm (which assesses the relative dominance of two categorical dimensions), the relative influence that sex and age have on each other during categorization of infant, younger adult, and older adult faces was investigated. Results of these experiments demonstrate that when sex and age dimensions are simultaneously categorized, only for infant faces does age influence sex categorization. In contrast, the sex of both young and older adults was shown to influence age categorization. The functional implications of these findings are discussed in light of previous person perception research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere84677
JournalPloS one
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 21 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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