ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

›› 2011, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (05): 494-499.

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Self-face Advantage Benefits from a Visual Self-reference Frame

WANG Ling-Yun;ZHANG Ming;SUI Jie   

  1. Department of Psychology, Northeast Normal University, Changchun 130024, China
  • Received:2010-09-01 Revised:1900-01-01 Published:2011-05-30 Online:2011-05-30
  • Contact: SUI Jie

Abstract: One responds faster to own faces than the faces of others. Although this self-advantage effect in face processing has been well documented, the mechanism underlying the phenomena is far from clear. A plausible account of the effect is that self-face as the salient stimulus automatically attracts one’s attention relative to others’ faces. An alternative interpretation based on the theory of social cognition stresses the implicit positive association between the self and positive trait adjectives, suggesting that such implicit associations may contribute to the self-advantage. Here we propose that the self-reference frame (making judgments from first-person perspective) facilitates the self-face processing compared to the processing of others’ faces.
We reported two experiments to assess the role of the self-reference frame in the self-advantage effect by manipulating the judgment-reference frame (self- vs. other-reference) and the attentional level (explicit vs. implicit task). There were sixteen pairs of gender matched participants in Experiment 1, they selectively judged the orientation of self or familiar faces while ignoring the familiar or self faces (explicit face-recognition task) from the self (making judgment from the participants’ own perspective) or other-reference frame (making judgment from the perspective of viewed images). In Experiment 2, fourteen pairs of participants had to judge the orientations of all types of faces including self, familiar, and unfamiliar others (implicit face-perception task) from the self or other-reference frame. Reaction time and accuracy were measured when participants conducted the tasks, and analyzed using repeated-measures analyses of variance (ANOVAs) with Face (self vs. familiar) and Perspective (self- vs. other-reference) as within-subjects variables.
We observed a clear benefit in the self relative to other conditions -- participants responded faster to own-face than the faces of others. But this effect exclusively occurred in the self-reference frame condition, regardless of the type of tasks. In contrast, the advantage effect was eliminated in the other-reference frame condition in either the explicit or implicit tasks.
The results indicate that the self-advantage in face processing results from self-reference frame. Although the judgment-reference frame was not explicitly emphasized in prior studies on self-face processing, self-face may automatically induce the self-reference frame and lead to a facilitation in self-face processing.

Key words: self-advantage, face perception, self-reference frame, attention