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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Investigating the Composite Effect in Prototype-Defined Checkerboards vs. Faces


The study reported here examined the role of expertise in the composite face effect which constitutes better recognition of the top half of a face when in composite with a congruent vs. an incongruent (in terms of response required) bottom half. Experiment 1a (n=96) used prototype-defined artificial stimuli (checkerboards) to investigate the composite effect. The advantage of using these stimuli is that expertise can be fully controlled. Experiment 1b (n=96) aimed to replicate the composite effect in face stimuli which served as a control and provided a direct comparison of the composite effect between face and checkerboard stimuli. A full experimental design including congruent/incongruent aligned and misaligned composites was used in both experiments to measure the composite effect. Experiment 1a revealed that the composite effect could not be obtained in checkerboard composites. Experiment 1b confirmed the robust composite face effect. We interpret our results as suggesting that expertise/perceptual learning does not contribute to the composite effect for faces.

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