Person knowledge shapes face identity perception

Dong Won Oh, Mirella Walker, Jonathan B. Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recognition of others' identity through facial features is essential in life. Using both correlational and experimental approaches, we examined how person knowledge biases the perception of others' facial identity. When a participant believed any two individuals were more similar in personality, their faces were perceived to be correspondingly more similar (assessed via mousetracking, Study 1). Further, participants' facial representations of target individuals that were believed to have a more similar personality were found to have a greater physical resemblance (assessed via reverse-correlation, Studies 2 and 3). Finally, when participants learned about novel individuals who had a more similar personality, their faces were visually represented more similarly (Study 4). Together, the findings show that the perception of facial identity is driven not only by facial features but also the person knowledge we have learned about others, biasing it toward alternate identities despite the fact that those identities lack any physical resemblance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104889
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Face processing
  • Mouse tracking
  • Person perception
  • Reverse correlation
  • Semantic memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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