'Face Files' Literature Review of Facial Features Psychology

2193 words (9 pages) Essay

11th Sep 2017 Psychology Reference this

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In Daniel Fitousi's article: "Binding Sex, Age, and Race in Unfamiliar Faces: The Formation of 'Face Files'" in the "Journal of Experimental Social Psychology," he explores the processes of the human mind in creating "face files." That is, he explores the relationship between the viewing of a person's spatial features, and the immediate impression it makes on the viewer. The author starts off by stating that many social categories in the human face are immediately recognizable such as race, gender, and age. These distinctions are evolutionarily important for survival, as quick rendering of these social cues could result in mating, fighting or fleeing. Curiously enough, it has been found that these cues are processed simultaneously in the brain such that spatial features of age, gender, and race are categorized immediately to form what Fitousi calls a "face file."

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This notion (that all of the features of ones face are processed simultaneously) leads to what psychologists call the "binding problem." The binding problem leads to the question: What is causing these simultaneous reactions of spatial recognition in the human brain? In Treisman's "The Binding Problem," she explores the possible reasons for this binding. She argues that there must be a mechanism that is causing these cognitive recognitions to occur simultaneously. A theory proposed by Treisman included the possibility of conjunctive cognition cells, essentially proposing that there may be cells in the brain that specifically exist to recognize a myriad of features as one. Another proposed theory suggests that there may be simultaneous firing of different but interconnected regions of the brain, proposing that perhaps the firing of several different areas of neurons creates the binding of sex, age, and race. 

This process has been shown through numerous experiments, such as J. Cloutier, J.B. Freeman, and N. Ambady's experiment "Investigating the Early Stages of Person Perception: 

The Asymmetry of Social Categorization by Sex Vs. Age." In this experiment, participants were told to categorize human faces as a specific sex, female or male. The researchers found that although their only specification was to determine the sex of the individual, when shown a picture of the same individual and asked the age they responded markedly quicker than if they had been categorizing just age alone. Fitousi expanded on this experiment through a series of experiments that, for the purpose of this paper, we will call the "Attended Vs. Unattended" experiments. In these series of experiments, Fitousi set out to determine which specific social cues were conjunctive by having one social cue be attended, i.e. asked to identify, and the other unattended. The researcher would then either alternate or repeat one of these social cues and ask the participants to identify the other social cue. In all experiments, the reaction time decreased significantly when the social cues were repeated rather than alternated, supporting the binding problem.

In conclusion, Fitousi found that there was a "domain general mechanism" that was attributed to short term binding of social cues and facial attributes. Fitousi also adds that although these "face files" seem to involve short term representations, they may also be crucial in understanding long term representations of great social importance, such as the development of trust.

It is interesting, the relationship between one friend and another. These non-sexual, longterm relationships occur between individuals that, under basic evolutionary circumstance, should not coincide as they are neither sexually attracted nor have familial obligation to help one another. In our Bio-Social Anthropology course, we are taught about the notion of reciprocal altruism. This notion supports the ideal that all relationships are essentially selfish, based on a cost to benefit ratio. This theory can be applied to a wide range of issues and resolutions between interpersonal relationships among humans and other animals alike. This theory encompasses the fact that having a relationship is only healthy and lasting if it is beneficial to all parties involved. 

If a participant in the relationship does not treat the other in accordance with their view of reciprocity, it results in negative reaction and sometimes the loss of the bond. In Alex Shaw's "Whoever is Not With Me is Against Me: The Costs of Neutrality Among Friends" presented in the "Journal of Experimental Psychology," he explores the reactions of people whose friends either help them, deter them, or remain neutral. This relationship and experiment are based upon the alliance theory. Precursors to this theory include P. Descioli and R. Kurzban's findings in their article, "A Solution to the Mysteries of Morality." In this article, they explore the moral implications of social interactions in which bystanders must take a side. It can be broken down as such: You witness a conflict between two individuals that call on you to take their side. You can either A: take the side of the stronger individual, or B: side with the individual you have previous positive context with. By following strategy A, you empower the stronger individual and create a power imbalance by submitting to their request based on fear of their strength and benefits of being on their side. If you choose strategy B, the result may be a more evenly spread accumulation of bystanders on either side resulting in a higher cost if there is conflict. Because of the negative results of basing your strategy solely on these variables, Descioli and Kurzban proposed a strategy evolved to react to conflict-based situations that relies on the actions and views of the individuals, rather than your personal relationship or odds of survival. They call this strategy "Moral Cognition." It allows the person to avoid the negative connotation of coordination and exploitation, and allows the bystander to react to various situations dynamically based on the "moral" context of the situation. 

Now, let's allow ourselves a look at the issue from the point of view of one of the individuals in conflict. The alliance theory is based on the idea that each individual friend is ranked among other friends in terms of loyalty. An individual places high value on loyalty, as it is crucial in attaining help in time of need. If one of your friends is loyal to you, but more loyal to someone else, you can't be certain they would unconditionally come to your aid. Remaining neutral in a conflict between a friend and another friend reliably tests the loyalty of the friend. In learning that a friend's loyalties lie with another, one becomes offended as this friend has demonstrated a lack of loyalty and care for your well being, from an evolutionary standpoint essentially putting your life at risk. Shaw theorizes that based on this Alliance Model, neutrality would be viewed quite harshly as it is essentially the same as denouncing loyalty to the individual without cause of previous stronger loyalties. 

Shaw tested this theory throughout a series of experiments that put the participant in social situations wherein their friends took a positive, negative or neutral stance in the event of the individual conflict. In the first experiment Shaw used online participants and short vignettes to explain the various situations. The participants were to then rate their feelings about the friend and rate closeness, damage to the friendship, future support, and blame from a scale equivalent to negative three to positive three. Shaw found that neutrality was viewed as negatively as deferment to the other side and that future support and blame correlated with these feelings. 

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Based on the Alliance Model, neutrality displays an apathy for the outcome of the dispute and essentially shows that the friend has no interest in helping solve the conflict. Shaw also found accordingly that the higher you rank the friend that defers to neutrality the more negatively you will feel to that friend. In the second Experiment Shaw changed the dynamic of the conflict. The conflict instead was between two close friends and put the bystander in the seat of the mutual acquaintance. Shaw found that again the results confirmed the loyalty to blame ratio. While neutrality was still viewed negatively, it was much less negative than had the acquaintance beena friend of the aggressors. The third experiment took out the asymmetry of friendship between the participants entirely naming all three member of the group as equally close friends. Again the researchers had the participants read about the bar scene in this context. The Alliance model played out as similarly as the other two experiments. 

In conclusion, these three experiments by Shaw all demonstrate and support the proposed Alliance Model of friendship indicating that while opposition is a given negative, and support is a given positive, neutrality does not land in the lining in between, rather neutrality is take much like opposition in the amount of offense and the negative effect this reaction has on the relationship of the two. 

In perhaps the most riveting article on Psychology in the 21st century Rishtee K Batra explores the age old question of whether or not spicy food results in more aggressive behavior in her article "You are what you eat: An empirical investigation of the relationship between spicy food and aggressive cognition" This study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology draws on the wisdom of ancient texts and the common to prove once and for all whether spicy foods lead to more aggressive cognition. 

Although there may be thousands of years of claims that spicy foods initiate aggression, never has there been an empirical investigation to confirm this hypothesis. The first step that the researchers took was to conduct a survey that goes as follows. The researchers surveyed 54 people with the question of whether they think eating spicy food would help give them the competitive edge they needed in order to deal with a disagreeable colleague. The survey confirmed the common belief that spicy foods increase aggression. The researchers also drew from anecdotes to reinforce the history of this belief. One example they reference is that of the Malaysian health ministry in regards to the feeding of criminals. In order not to spark any hostility this organization explicitly details that prisoners are to be fed bland food to dissuade aggression among the inmates. 

The first test used by the researchers had the goal of setting the preliminary relationship between spicy foods and aggression. Their measurements were taken into account with D.G. Forgays trait-aggression scale. Participants in the study were first asked on a scale from one to one hundred, how spicy on average the food they consumed was. They were then asked to rate themselves on the trait aggression scale which encompasses the following traits from Forgays (1997) Aggression scale. "I consider myself to be: hot-headed, aggressive, short-tempered, easily upset, easily lose my temper, easily irritated, easily angered," To mask the obvious relationship between the two for the participants, the researchers also threw in ancillary traits such as considerate, reliable, impulsive, interesting. The researchers then set the data on a linear regression model with trait aggression as the dependant variable. Results from the study confirmed that there does indeed seem to be a correlation between the amount of spicy food one eats, and the aggression traits one attributes to themselves. 

As the first Study confirmed that there does seem to be a relationship between spicy food and aggression, the research group moved on to the next study. The first study was too broad, indeed it was only used as a foundation for the following studies. Study number two set out to eliminate any third variables that may be at play, many variables factor into aggressive traits including biological make up. In this study subjects were fed spicy food and then later monitored on their salience for aggressive intent. Sixty students participated in the second study. The first step was to rule out other variables such as warmth and brightness of the room. Once the number of variables was down to the proper 2 they began the experiment. Students were given a plain chip and a chip with habanero sauce on it. The students were then asked to rate the chips on a scale of one to ten in regards to certain statements that were written on the page. Later the students were asked to rate a protagonist of a story on their perceptions of his actions. This method created by Srull and Wyer (1979) involves a reading comprehension test involving an aggressive protagonist.

In conclusion the researchers found that not only is there a correlation between spicy foods and aggression, but that even the sight of spicy food is enough to activate the stimuli necessary to enact aggressive cognition.

In Daniel Fitousi's article: "Binding Sex, Age, and Race in Unfamiliar Faces: The Formation of 'Face Files'" in the "Journal of Experimental Social Psychology," he explores the processes of the human mind in creating "face files." That is, he explores the relationship between the viewing of a person's spatial features, and the immediate impression it makes on the viewer. The author starts off by stating that many social categories in the human face are immediately recognizable such as race, gender, and age. These distinctions are evolutionarily important for survival, as quick rendering of these social cues could result in mating, fighting or fleeing. Curiously enough, it has been found that these cues are processed simultaneously in the brain such that spatial features of age, gender, and race are categorized immediately to form what Fitousi calls a "face file."

This notion (that all of the features of ones face are processed simultaneously) leads to what psychologists call the "binding problem." The binding problem leads to the question: What is causing these simultaneous reactions of spatial recognition in the human brain? In Treisman's "The Binding Problem," she explores the possible reasons for this binding. She argues that there must be a mechanism that is causing these cognitive recognitions to occur simultaneously. A theory proposed by Treisman included the possibility of conjunctive cognition cells, essentially proposing that there may be cells in the brain that specifically exist to recognize a myriad of features as one. Another proposed theory suggests that there may be simultaneous firing of different but interconnected regions of the brain, proposing that perhaps the firing of several different areas of neurons creates the binding of sex, age, and race. 

This process has been shown through numerous experiments, such as J. Cloutier, J.B. Freeman, and N. Ambady's experiment "Investigating the Early Stages of Person Perception: 

The Asymmetry of Social Categorization by Sex Vs. Age." In this experiment, participants were told to categorize human faces as a specific sex, female or male. The researchers found that although their only specification was to determine the sex of the individual, when shown a picture of the same individual and asked the age they responded markedly quicker than if they had been categorizing just age alone. Fitousi expanded on this experiment through a series of experiments that, for the purpose of this paper, we will call the "Attended Vs. Unattended" experiments. In these series of experiments, Fitousi set out to determine which specific social cues were conjunctive by having one social cue be attended, i.e. asked to identify, and the other unattended. The researcher would then either alternate or repeat one of these social cues and ask the participants to identify the other social cue. In all experiments, the reaction time decreased significantly when the social cues were repeated rather than alternated, supporting the binding problem.

In conclusion, Fitousi found that there was a "domain general mechanism" that was attributed to short term binding of social cues and facial attributes. Fitousi also adds that although these "face files" seem to involve short term representations, they may also be crucial in understanding long term representations of great social importance, such as the development of trust.

It is interesting, the relationship between one friend and another. These non-sexual, longterm relationships occur between individuals that, under basic evolutionary circumstance, should not coincide as they are neither sexually attracted nor have familial obligation to help one another. In our Bio-Social Anthropology course, we are taught about the notion of reciprocal altruism. This notion supports the ideal that all relationships are essentially selfish, based on a cost to benefit ratio. This theory can be applied to a wide range of issues and resolutions between interpersonal relationships among humans and other animals alike. This theory encompasses the fact that having a relationship is only healthy and lasting if it is beneficial to all parties involved. 

If a participant in the relationship does not treat the other in accordance with their view of reciprocity, it results in negative reaction and sometimes the loss of the bond. In Alex Shaw's "Whoever is Not With Me is Against Me: The Costs of Neutrality Among Friends" presented in the "Journal of Experimental Psychology," he explores the reactions of people whose friends either help them, deter them, or remain neutral. This relationship and experiment are based upon the alliance theory. Precursors to this theory include P. Descioli and R. Kurzban's findings in their article, "A Solution to the Mysteries of Morality." In this article, they explore the moral implications of social interactions in which bystanders must take a side. It can be broken down as such: You witness a conflict between two individuals that call on you to take their side. You can either A: take the side of the stronger individual, or B: side with the individual you have previous positive context with. By following strategy A, you empower the stronger individual and create a power imbalance by submitting to their request based on fear of their strength and benefits of being on their side. If you choose strategy B, the result may be a more evenly spread accumulation of bystanders on either side resulting in a higher cost if there is conflict. Because of the negative results of basing your strategy solely on these variables, Descioli and Kurzban proposed a strategy evolved to react to conflict-based situations that relies on the actions and views of the individuals, rather than your personal relationship or odds of survival. They call this strategy "Moral Cognition." It allows the person to avoid the negative connotation of coordination and exploitation, and allows the bystander to react to various situations dynamically based on the "moral" context of the situation. 

Now, let's allow ourselves a look at the issue from the point of view of one of the individuals in conflict. The alliance theory is based on the idea that each individual friend is ranked among other friends in terms of loyalty. An individual places high value on loyalty, as it is crucial in attaining help in time of need. If one of your friends is loyal to you, but more loyal to someone else, you can't be certain they would unconditionally come to your aid. Remaining neutral in a conflict between a friend and another friend reliably tests the loyalty of the friend. In learning that a friend's loyalties lie with another, one becomes offended as this friend has demonstrated a lack of loyalty and care for your well being, from an evolutionary standpoint essentially putting your life at risk. Shaw theorizes that based on this Alliance Model, neutrality would be viewed quite harshly as it is essentially the same as denouncing loyalty to the individual without cause of previous stronger loyalties. 

Shaw tested this theory throughout a series of experiments that put the participant in social situations wherein their friends took a positive, negative or neutral stance in the event of the individual conflict. In the first experiment Shaw used online participants and short vignettes to explain the various situations. The participants were to then rate their feelings about the friend and rate closeness, damage to the friendship, future support, and blame from a scale equivalent to negative three to positive three. Shaw found that neutrality was viewed as negatively as deferment to the other side and that future support and blame correlated with these feelings. 

Based on the Alliance Model, neutrality displays an apathy for the outcome of the dispute and essentially shows that the friend has no interest in helping solve the conflict. Shaw also found accordingly that the higher you rank the friend that defers to neutrality the more negatively you will feel to that friend. In the second Experiment Shaw changed the dynamic of the conflict. The conflict instead was between two close friends and put the bystander in the seat of the mutual acquaintance. Shaw found that again the results confirmed the loyalty to blame ratio. While neutrality was still viewed negatively, it was much less negative than had the acquaintance beena friend of the aggressors. The third experiment took out the asymmetry of friendship between the participants entirely naming all three member of the group as equally close friends. Again the researchers had the participants read about the bar scene in this context. The Alliance model played out as similarly as the other two experiments. 

In conclusion, these three experiments by Shaw all demonstrate and support the proposed Alliance Model of friendship indicating that while opposition is a given negative, and support is a given positive, neutrality does not land in the lining in between, rather neutrality is take much like opposition in the amount of offense and the negative effect this reaction has on the relationship of the two. 

In perhaps the most riveting article on Psychology in the 21st century Rishtee K Batra explores the age old question of whether or not spicy food results in more aggressive behavior in her article "You are what you eat: An empirical investigation of the relationship between spicy food and aggressive cognition" This study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology draws on the wisdom of ancient texts and the common to prove once and for all whether spicy foods lead to more aggressive cognition. 

Although there may be thousands of years of claims that spicy foods initiate aggression, never has there been an empirical investigation to confirm this hypothesis. The first step that the researchers took was to conduct a survey that goes as follows. The researchers surveyed 54 people with the question of whether they think eating spicy food would help give them the competitive edge they needed in order to deal with a disagreeable colleague. The survey confirmed the common belief that spicy foods increase aggression. The researchers also drew from anecdotes to reinforce the history of this belief. One example they reference is that of the Malaysian health ministry in regards to the feeding of criminals. In order not to spark any hostility this organization explicitly details that prisoners are to be fed bland food to dissuade aggression among the inmates. 

The first test used by the researchers had the goal of setting the preliminary relationship between spicy foods and aggression. Their measurements were taken into account with D.G. Forgays trait-aggression scale. Participants in the study were first asked on a scale from one to one hundred, how spicy on average the food they consumed was. They were then asked to rate themselves on the trait aggression scale which encompasses the following traits from Forgays (1997) Aggression scale. "I consider myself to be: hot-headed, aggressive, short-tempered, easily upset, easily lose my temper, easily irritated, easily angered," To mask the obvious relationship between the two for the participants, the researchers also threw in ancillary traits such as considerate, reliable, impulsive, interesting. The researchers then set the data on a linear regression model with trait aggression as the dependant variable. Results from the study confirmed that there does indeed seem to be a correlation between the amount of spicy food one eats, and the aggression traits one attributes to themselves. 

As the first Study confirmed that there does seem to be a relationship between spicy food and aggression, the research group moved on to the next study. The first study was too broad, indeed it was only used as a foundation for the following studies. Study number two set out to eliminate any third variables that may be at play, many variables factor into aggressive traits including biological make up. In this study subjects were fed spicy food and then later monitored on their salience for aggressive intent. Sixty students participated in the second study. The first step was to rule out other variables such as warmth and brightness of the room. Once the number of variables was down to the proper 2 they began the experiment. Students were given a plain chip and a chip with habanero sauce on it. The students were then asked to rate the chips on a scale of one to ten in regards to certain statements that were written on the page. Later the students were asked to rate a protagonist of a story on their perceptions of his actions. This method created by Srull and Wyer (1979) involves a reading comprehension test involving an aggressive protagonist.

In conclusion the researchers found that not only is there a correlation between spicy foods and aggression, but that even the sight of spicy food is enough to activate the stimuli necessary to enact aggressive cognition.

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