Better the devil you know? Non-conscious processing of identity and affect of famous faces

Stone, Anna and Valentine, Tim. 2004. Better the devil you know? Non-conscious processing of identity and affect of famous faces. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 11(3), pp. 469-474. ISSN 1069-9384 [Article]

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The non-conscious recognition of facial identity was investigated in two experiments featuring brief (17-msec) masked stimulus presentation to prevent conscious recognition. Faces were presented in simultaneous pairs of one famous face and one unfamiliar face, and participants attempted to select the famous face. Subsequently, participants rated the famous persons as ”good“ or ”evil“ (Experiment 1) or liked or disliked (Experiment 2). In Experiments 1 and 2, responses were less accurate to faces of persons rated evil/disliked than to faces of persons rated good/liked, and faces of persons rated evil/disliked were selected significantly below chance. Experiment 2 showed the effect in a within-items analysis: A famous face was selected less often by participants who disliked the person than by participants who liked the person, and the former were selected below chance accuracy. The within-items analysis rules out possible confounding factors based on variations in physical characteristics of the stimulus faces and confirms that the effects are due to participants’ attitudes toward the famous persons. The results suggest that facial identity is recognized preconsciously, and that responses may be based on affect rather than familiarity.

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June 2004Published

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30 Mar 2011 11:45

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04 Jul 2017 13:06

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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