Nonlinear relationships between eye gaze and recognition accuracy for ethnic ingroup and outgroup faces. Journal Article uri icon



  • Researchers have used eye-tracking measures to explore the relationship between face encoding and recognition, including the impact of ethnicity on this relationship. Previous studies offer a variety of conflicting conclusions. This confusion may stem from misestimation of the relationship between encoding and recognition. First, most previous models fail to account for the structure of eye-tracking data, potentially falling prey to Simpson's paradox. Second, previous models assume a linear relationship between attention (e.g., the number of fixations to a to-be-remembered face) and recognition accuracy. Two eye-tracking studies (Ns = 41, 59), one online experiment that manipulates exposure (N = 150), and a mega-analysis examine the effects of ethnicity using what we believe to be more appropriate analytical models. Across studies and measures, we document a novel, critical pattern: The relationship between attention and recognition is nonlinear and negatively accelerating. At low levels of baseline attention, a small increment in attention improves recognition. However, as attention increases further, increments yield smaller and smaller benefits. This finding parallels work in learning and memory. In models that allow for nonlinearity, we find evidence that central features (eyes, nose, and mouth) generally contribute to recognition accuracy, potentially resolving disagreements in the field. We also find that the effects of attention on recognition are similar for ingroup and outgroup faces, which have important implications for theories of perceptual expertise. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2024 APA, all rights reserved).

publication date

  • May 30, 2024

has restriction

  • closed

Date in CU Experts

  • May 31, 2024 8:35 AM

Full Author List

  • Correll J; Quarenta J; Palma TA; Singh B; Bernstein MJ; Hidalgo Vargas O

author count

  • 6

Other Profiles

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-1315