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Face detection in contextual scenes

Prunty, Jonathan, Jenkins, Rob, Qarooni, Rana, Bindemann, Markus (2024) Face detection in contextual scenes. PLOS ONE, 19 (6). Article Number e0304288. E-ISSN 1932-6203. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0304288) (KAR id:106246)


Object and scene perception are intertwined. When objects are expected to appear within a particular scene, they are detected and categorised with greater speed and accuracy. This study examined whether such context effects also moderate the perception of social objects such as faces. Female and male faces were embedded in scenes with a stereotypical female or male context. Semantic congruency of these scene contexts influenced the categorisation of faces (Experiment 1). These effects were bi-directional, such that face sex also affected scene categorisation (Experiment 2), suggesting concurrent automatic processing of both levels. In contrast, the more elementary task of face detection was not affected by semantic scene congruency (Experiment 3), even when scenes were previewed prior to face presentation (Experiment 4). This pattern of results indicates that semantic scene context can affect categorisation of faces. However, the earlier perceptual stage of detection appears to be encapsulated from the cognitive processes that give rise to this contextual interference.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1371/journal.pone.0304288
Uncontrolled keywords: Facial Recognition - physiology, Face, Humans, Male, Photic Stimulation, Young Adult, Pattern Recognition, Visual - physiology, Adult, Visual Perception - physiology, Reaction Time - physiology, Adolescent, Semantics, Female
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Funders: Leverhulme Trust (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2024 14:08 UTC
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2024 14:22 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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