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The role of configural information in gender categorisation was studied by aligning the top half of one face with the bottom half of another. The two faces had the same or different genders. Experiment 1 shows that participants were slower and made more errors in categorising the gender in either half of these composite faces when the two faces had a different gender, relative to control conditions where the two faces were nonaligned or had the same gender. This result parallels the composite effect for face recognition (Young et al, 1987 Perception 16 747-759) and facial-expression recognition (Calder et al, 2000 Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 26 527-551). Similarly to responses to face identity and expression, the composite effect on gender discrimination was disrupted by inverting the faces (experiment 2). Both experiments also show that the composite paradigm is sensitive to general contextual interference in gender categorisation.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





531 - 540


Adolescent, Adult, Face, Female, Humans, Judgment, Male, Models, Psychological, Orientation, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Photic Stimulation, Psychological Tests, Reaction Time, Recognition, Psychology, Sex