Benay Başkurt wins ECVP 2019 poster award

Eye Movements during a Face Race Categorization Task

August 31, 2019

Benay Başkurt won the prize for the best scientific poster at the European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP). Together with Isabelle Bülthoff, leader of the group Recognition & Categorization, and her cooperation partner Christian Wallraven from Korea University she focuses on facial recognition in her research at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics. The European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP) is an annual conference and attracts a wide variety of participants from Psychology, Neuroscience and Cognitive Science.

Benay Başkurt works as a research assistant at the MPI for Biological Cybernetics. The ECVP 2019 Best Poster Jury reviewed her work with great interest and rewarded the poster for its scientific quality, layout, such as clarity and design, and presentation.

Are some facial features more important than others?
The research team investigated, which facial features influences most how we classify the ethnicity of a face. In the experiment, participants had to classify Caucasian and Asian faces by their ethnicity. The trick was that the researchers had exchanged individual parts, such as eyes, nose or mouth, between these faces. The eye movements of the participants were also registered during the task. It turned out that eyes and skin were most potent for the perceived ethnicity of a face. For example, an Asian face with Caucasian eyes was mostly classified as Caucasian. In contrast, mouth, nose or the contour of the face play only a minor role. Examination of the eye movements revealed that subjects mostly looked at the eyes, regardless of the perceived ethnicity.

Cultural influence
The research team now tests Korean participants to find out whether such findings might be conditioned culturally. For example, a direct look in the eye is perceived as intrusive in some cultures, but less so in others.

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