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Title: The visual processing of human faces and bodies as visual stimuli in natural scenes
Author: Kroll, V. R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5920 2088
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2016
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How faces are recognized and detected has been the focus of an extensive corpus of research. As such, it is now well established that human faces can be detected rapidly in a visual scene and that they automatically capture a viewer’s attention over other objects. However, under natural viewing conditions the human face is attached to a substantial cue, the human body. The evidence to-date of a similar attentional processing advantage for human bodies is less clear. This is remarkable given the social significance and evidence of neural specificity for these stimuli. Additionally, most previous investigations of preferential attention towards faces and bodies have presented these stimuli in simple displays, namely uniform colour backgrounds (Bindemann, Scheepers, Ferguson & Burton, 2010). Therefore, this thesis aimed to address the relationship between attention and face and body processing in natural scenes directly by assessing the consequences of numerous experimental manipulations in both a visual search paradigm and additional singleton paradigm. The first line of enquiry examined participants’ ability to detect face and body stimuli in comparison to other objects in natural scenes. Subsequent experiments examined whether faces and bodies captured attention when they were task-irrelevant. In line with previous research, the main findings indicate that human faces do have attentional advantages and capture attention in both natural and grey scenes. They also indicate that human bodies (without the head) do not have detection advantages over other objects, nor do they capture attention in a bottom-up manner. Any biases or detection advantages observed for body targets are because they larger in size than other objects or because they are odd stimuli in that scene. Human full-body targets (including the face), which are perceived on a day-to-day basis, capture attention partly because they include face and partly because they are large objects in the scene. These findings modify claims of person perception suggesting that the detection of a full-body in natural scenes is facilitated by attention capture by faces, any advantages from bodies are the result of attention capture by their large size, rather than some attentional advantage. Future investigating into face and body processing should use natural backgrounds to gain a more realistic insight in to face and body processing in the real world.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available