The relationship between visual search and categorization of own- and other-age faces

Belinda M. Craig*, Ottmar V. Lipp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Young adult participants are faster to detect young adult faces in crowds of infant and child faces than vice versa. These findings have been interpreted as evidence for more efficient attentional capture by own-age than other-age faces, but could alternatively reflect faster rejection of other-age than own-age distractors, consistent with the previously reported other-age categorization advantage: faster categorization of other-age than own-age faces. Participants searched for own-age faces in other-age backgrounds or vice versa. Extending the finding to different other-age groups, young adult participants were faster to detect young adult faces in both early adolescent (Experiment 1) and older adult backgrounds (Experiment 2). To investigate whether the own-age detection advantage could be explained by faster categorization and rejection of other-age background faces, participants in experiments 3 and 4 also completed an age categorization task. Relatively faster categorization of other-age faces was related to relatively faster search through other-age backgrounds on target absent trials but not target present trials. These results confirm that other-age faces are more quickly categorized and searched through and that categorization and search processes are related; however, this correlational approach could not confirm or reject the contribution of background face processing to the own-age detection advantage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)736-757
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes


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