Can massive but passive exposure to faces contribute to face recognition abilities?

Galit Yovel*, Keren Halsband, Michel Pelleg, Naomi Farkash, Bracha Gal, Yonatan Goshen-Gottstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent studies have suggested that individuation of other-race faces is more crucial for enhancing recognition performance than exposure that involves categorization of these faces to an identity-irrelevant criterion. These findings were primarily based on laboratory training protocols that dissociated exposure and individuation by using categorization tasks. However, the absence of enhanced recognition following categorization may not simulate key aspects of real-life massive exposure without individuation to other-race faces. Real-life exposure spans years of seeing a multitude of faces, under variant conditions, including expression, view, lighting and gaze, albeit with no subcategory individuation. However, in most real-life settings, massive exposure operates in concert with individuation. An exception to that are neonatology nurses, a unique population that is exposed to-but do not individuate-massive numbers of newborn faces. Our findings show that recognition of newborn faces by nurses does not differ from adults who are rarely exposed to newborn faces. A control study showed that the absence of enhanced recognition cannot be attributed to the relatively short exposure to each newborn face in the neonatology unit or to newborns' apparent homogeneous appearance. It is therefore the quality-not the quantity-of exposure that determines recognition abilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-289
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Face recognition
  • Individuation
  • Newborn-face effect
  • Other-race effect
  • Perceptual training


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