Published On: 26/06/2009|Categories: 2008–2012, Vol.30 (2), Vol.30 (2009)|

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Two experiments examined the effects of age of acquisition (AoA) and the gender of stimulus faces on familiarity decisions (Experiment 1) and gender decisions (Experiment 2) to the same set of famous and unfamiliar faces presented as whole faces, internal features or external features. In Experiment 1, familiarity decisions were faster to whole faces than to internal or external features. Famous faces with early AoA were recognised faster than later acquired faces, though the effect was only reliable for famous male faces, and for whole faces and internal features rather than for external features. In Experiment 2, gender decisions were made more rapidly to whole faces than to internal or external features. Classification was faster to famous than to unfamiliar faces when the faces were presented as internal features or external features, but not when they were presented as whole faces. More gender classification errors were made to famous than to unfamiliar male faces, but there was no effect of familiarity on the accuracy of responses to female faces. AoA had no effect on gender classification of whole faces or external features. Classification from internal features was faster for early than for late acquired male faces, but faster for late than for early female faces. In the light of the anomalous results for female faces, responses to male faces were analysed separately. The results for the male faces form the focus of the discussion.

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