DeBruine LM & Jones BC (2013). Evidence for specialized processing of facial kinship cues. Human Behavior and Evolution Society in Miami, Florida, USA. July 2013.

Many aspects of face processing, such as identity, gender and normality judgments, are severely disrupted by inversion. This inversion effect is thought to be a hallmark of configural processing, while featural processing is unimpaired by inversion. Previous research shows that gender-related physical differences between adult sibling faces influence similarity judgments, but not kinship judgments (i.e., gender differences are “discounted” when judging kinship). Since similarity judgments and gender discrimination are impaired by inversion, if kinship perception is simply a combination of the perceptual mechanisms for judging similarity and gender, then kin recognition should be disrupted by inversion for same-sex pairs and even more severely for opposite-sex pairs. However, here we find that inversion does not disrupt allocentric kin recognition for either same-sex or opposite-sex pairs, suggesting that kin recognition mechanisms may be relatively specialized and not simply a by-product of general face recognition mechanisms.

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