Normal face-based judgements of social characteristics despite severely impaired holistic face processing

Susanne Quadflieg, Alexander Todorov, Renaud Laguesse, Bruno Rossion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Initial evidence indicates that face-based judgements of socially relevant characteristics such as people's trustworthiness or attractiveness are linked to the configural/holistic processing of facial cues. What remains a matter of debate, however, is whether such processing is actually necessary for normal social judgements to occur and whether it resembles the type of integrative processing as required for facial identification. To address these issues, we asked a well-characterized case of acquired prosopagnosia (PS) with a marked deficit in holistic processing for face identity to rate a series of faces on several dimensions of social relevance. PS provided ratings within the normal range for most of the social characteristics probed (i.e., aggression, attractiveness, confidence, intelligence, sociability, trustworthiness). Her evaluations deviated from those of healthy controls only when facial dominance was concerned. Taken together, these data demonstrate that the inability to integrate facial information during face individuation does not necessarily translate into a generalized deficit to evaluate faces on social dimensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)865-882
Number of pages18
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


  • First impressions
  • Holistic processing
  • Person perception
  • Trait inferences


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