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Perceptual and decisional factors influencing the discrimination of inversion in the Thatcher illusion

By Katherine Cornes, Nick Donnelly, Hayward Godwin and Michael J Wenger


The Thatcher illusion (Thompson, 1980) is considered to be a prototypical illustration of the notion that face perception is dependent on configural processes and representations. We explore this idea by examining the relative contributions of perceptual and decisional processes to the ability of observers to identify the orientation of two classes of forms faces and churches and a set of their component features. Observers were presented with upright and inverted images of faces and churches, in which the components (eyes, mouth, windows,<br/>doors) were present either upright or inverted. Observers first rated the subjective grotesqueness of all of the images, then performed a complete identification task, in which they had to identify the orientation of the overall form, and the orientation of each of the interior features.<br/>Grotesqueness ratings for both classes of image showed the standard modulation of rated grotesqueness as a function of orientation. The complete identification results revealed violations of both perceptual and decisional separability, but failed to reveal any violations of within stimulus (perceptual) independence. In addition, exploration of a simple bivariate gaussian signal detection model of the relationship between identification performance and judged grotesqueness suggests that within stimulus violations of perceptual independence on their own are insufficient for producing the illusion. This lack of evidence for within stimulus configurality suggests the need for a critical re-evaluation of the role of configural processing in the Thatcher illusion

Topics: R1
Year: 2011
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Provided by: e-Prints Soton
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