Face detection dissociates from face identification

David J. Robertson, Rob Jenkins, A. Mike Burton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
50 Downloads (Pure)


We describe three experiments in which viewers complete face detection tasks as well as standard measures of unfamiliar face identification. In the first two studies, participants viewed pareidolic images of objects (Experiment 1) or cloud scenes (Experiment 2), and their propensity to see faces in these scenes was measured. In neither case is performance significantly associated with identification, as measured by the Cambridge Face Memory or Glasgow Face Matching Tests. In Experiment 3 we showed participants real faces in cluttered scenes. Viewers’ ability to detect these faces is unrelated to their identification performance. We conclude that face detection dissociates from face identification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)740-748
Number of pages9
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number7-8
Early online date2 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2017
Externally publishedYes


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