Contemporary models of face recognition distinguish two sorts of semantic information available from a face: identity-specific semantic codes and visually-derived semantic codes (Bruce & Young, 1986). Access to the former (e.g., biographical information) has been extensively investigated, but the latter have mainly been used as marker variables for examining other aspects of face recognition (e.g., attractiveness, distinctiveness. masculinity/femininity). It is usually assumed these attributes are invariant. This may be true for unfamiliar faces, but in experiments employing familiar faces perception of these characteristics may vary with participants’ knowledge of the stimuli. In a series of experiments, participants were familiarised with attributes of previously unfamiliar people and then required to make ratings of various physical characteristics. The findings reveal a complex inter-relationship between facts known about a person and the derivation of visually derived codes from their face. The implications for employing these variables in face processing experiments are discussed
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