Controversy exists over whether facial expression recognition is a holistic or feature-based process. The present research explored whether stimulus format (photographic vs. schematic) affects the type of processing used. In a composite/noncomposite expression recognition task, holistic processing was observed for photographic stimuli and feature-based processing was observed for schematic stimuli. Moreover, holistic processing in the photographic condition increased when more than one individual was presented. Results suggest that facial expression processing is holistic under natural viewing conditions and provide a potential resolution to the previous controversy. Such findings may be corroborated by an ongoing follow-up study using gaze-contingent stimulus presentations.
Prazak, Emily R., "Facial Expression Processing is Holistic or Feature-Based Depending on Stimulus Format: Evidence from the Composite Face Illusion and Gaze-Contingent Stimulus Presentations" (2012). Psychology Honors Projects. Paper 27.
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