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Title: Cultural differences in the development of face perception
Author: Haensel, Jennifer X.
ISNI:       0000 0004 9346 7469
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2021
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The development of specialised face processing is shaped by postnatal social experience. Previous literature indicates cultural influences on face scanning, but when and how culture modulates the development of expert face processing remains unclear. Current interpretations are additionally restricted to highly controlled screen-based paradigms that lack the social presence and visual complexities common to social interactions. This thesis explores cultural differences in infants' and adults' face scanning during naturalistic dyadic interactions and within screen-based paradigms to cast light on possible mechanisms that can explain how the postnatal environment shapes face perception. Chapter 2 discusses the significant methodological challenges associated with the analysis of head-mounted eye tracking data and presents a semi-automatic computational solution as well as a novel data-driven method based on permutation testing. Chapter 3 adopts dual eye tracking techniques in Western Caucasian and East Asian adults to explore face scanning during dyadic interactions. Chapter 4 presents a methodologically refined follow-up study and reveals greater eye scanning in Japanese adults and more mouth looking in British/Irish individuals. Chapter 5 employs a cross-sectional screen-based paradigm to examine face scanning in British and Japanese infants (aged 10 and 16 months) and adults. Independent effects of culture and age are revealed, suggesting that cultural differences largely manifest by 10 months of age. Chapter 6 examines whether scanning strategies of British and Japanese 10-month-olds extend to dyadic interactions but finds that both groups predominantly scan the lower face region. Altogether, the thesis findings suggest that the manifestation of cultural differences in face scanning and the degree to which they can be observed depends on various factors, e.g., age, social presence, or the dynamic complexity of faces. Overall, this points to a highly adaptive face processing system that is shaped by early postnatal social experience and modulated by contextual factors.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available