Steven Young, Baruch College/CUNY
Disrupting Configural Face Processing Leads to Dehumanization
Faces are processed in a configural manner. This feature integration process is largely unique to faces and distinguishes face from object processing. The current series of experiments examine the social cognitive consequences of configural face processing and present research showing that configural encoding provides a perceptual cue to humanness (e.g., that a person possesses cognitive and emotional complexity). Specifically, manipulations that disrupt configural face processing (e.g., face inversion) also lead faces to be dehumanized across a range of dependent measures, suggesting that disrupting face-specific processing mechanisms disrupts downstream recognition of humanness. Collectively, this research provides evidence that low-level perceptual information plays an important role in (de)humanization.