Framing faces: Frame alignment impacts holistic face perception

Kim M. Curby*, Robert Entenman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Traditional accounts of face perception emphasise the importance of the prototypical configuration of features within faces. However, here we probe influences of more general perceptual grouping mechanisms on holistic face perception. Participants made part-matching judgments about composite faces presented in intact external oval frames or frames made from misaligned oval parts. This manipulation served to disrupt basic perceptual grouping cues that facilitate the grouping of the two face halves together. This manipulation also produced an external face contour like that in the standard misaligned condition used within the classic composite face task. Notably, by introducing a discontinuity in the external contour, grouping of the face halves into a cohesive unit was discouraged, but face configuration was preserved. Conditions where both the face parts and the frames were misaligned together, as in the typical composite task paradigm, or where just the internal face parts where misaligned, were also included. Disrupting only the face frame similarly disrupted holistic face perception as disrupting both the frame and face configuration. However, misaligned face parts presented in aligned frames also incurred a cost to holistic perception. These findings provide support for the contribution of general-purpose perceptual grouping mechanisms to holistic face perception and are presented and discussed in the context of an enhanced object-based selection account of holistic perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2569-2578
Number of pages10
JournalAttention, Perception and Psychophysics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • Face perception
  • Grouping and Segmentation
  • Object-based attention


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