Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Maori facial tattoo (Ta Moko): implications for face recognition processes.

By Dr. Heather Buttle


Ta Moko is the art of the Maori tattoo. It was an integral aspect of Maori society and is currently seeing resurgence in popularity. In particular it is linked with ancestry and a sense of “Maori” pride. Ta Moko is traditionally worn by Maori males on the buttocks and on the face, while Maori women wear it on the chin and lips. With curvilinear lines and spiral patterns applied to the face with a dark pigment, the full facial Moko creates a striking appearance. Given our reliance on efficiently encoding faces this transformation could potentially interfere with how viewers normally process and recognise the human face (e.g. configural information). The pattern’s effects on recognising identity, expression, race, speech, and gender are considered, and implications are drawn, which could help wearers and viewers of Ta Moko understand why sustained attention (staring) is drawn to such especially unique faces

Topics: Applied Cognitive Psychology
Year: 2008
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (2003). 28). Concern over ignorant use of Ta Moko.
  2. (1991). A unified account of the effects of distinctiveness, inversion and encoding activity upon face recognition. doi
  3. (1995). An investigation of the contact hypothesis of the own-race bias in face recognition.
  4. (1996). Catergorical perception of morphed facial expressions.
  5. (1987). Configural information in face perception. doi
  6. (2000). Configural Information in Facial Expression Perception.
  7. (1989). Expertise and configural coding in face recognition.
  8. (1988). Explorations in research on the other-race effect in face recognition.
  9. (2006). from,13990,
  10. (2003). High familiarity enhances visual change detection for face stimuli.
  11. (1998). In The Eye Of The Beholder: The Science Of Face Perception.
  12. (1969). Looking at upside-down faces. doi
  13. (1980). Margaret Thatcher: A new illusion. doi
  14. (1985). Matching familiar and unfamiliar faces on internal and external features. doi
  15. (2001). Recognizing faces of other ethnic groups: an integration of theories.
  16. (1989). Stereoscopic depth: Its relation to image segmentation, grouping, and the recognition of occluded objects.
  17. (1994). Structural aspects of face recognition and the other race effect.
  18. (1986). Ta Moko: The Art of Maori Tattoo.
  19. (2004). Tangata Mau Moko: Coping with the Reactions and Attitudes of Others. Retrieved
  20. (1990). Target person distinctiveness and attractiveness as moderator variables in the confidence-accuracy relationship in eyewitness identifications.
  21. (1995). The contribution of external and internal features to the matching of unfamiliar faces.
  22. (2001). The discrepancy-attribution hypothesis: I. The heuristic basis of feelings of familiarity. doi
  23. (2001). The discrepancy-attribution hypothesis: II. Expectation, uncertainty, surprise and feelings of familiarity. doi
  24. (1991). The effects of distinctiveness, presentation time and delay on face recognition.
  25. (2000). The source of feelings of familiarity: The discrepancy-attribution hypothesis. doi
  26. (1986). Understanding face recognition.
  27. (1993). What’s the difference between men and women? Evidence from facial measurement.
  28. (1998). Why do strangers feel familiar, but friends don’t? The unexpected basis of feelings of familiarity. doi
  29. (1986). Why faces are not special: An effect of expertise.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.