Lateralization of kin recognition signals in the human face

Maria F. Dal Martello, Laurence T. Maloney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When human subjects view photographs of faces, their judgments of identity, gender, emotion, age, and attractiveness depend more on one side of the face than the other. We report an experiment testing whether allocentric kin recognition (the ability to judge the degree of kinship between individuals other than the observer) is also lateralized. One hundred and twenty-four observers judged whether or not pairs of children were biological siblings by looking at photographs of their faces. In three separate conditions, (1) the right hemi-face was masked, (2) the left hemi-face was masked, or (3) the face was fully visible. The d′ measures for the masked left hemi-face and masked right hemi-face were 1.024 and 1.004, respectively (no significant difference), and the d′ measure for the unmasked face was 1.079, not significantly greater than that for either of the masked conditions. We conclude, first, that there is no superiority of one or the other side of the observed face in kin recognition, second, that the information present in the left and right hemi-faces relevant to recognizing kin is completely redundant, and last that symmetry cues are not used for kin recognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2010


  • Cue combination
  • Face perception
  • Kin recognition
  • Signal detection theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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