Article

Reading chimpanzee faces: evidence for the role of verbal labels in categorical perception of emotion.

Department of Psychology, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA.
Emotion (Impact Factor: 3.88). 08/2010; 10(4):544-54. DOI: 10.1037/a0019017
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Categorical perception (CP) occurs when continuously varying stimuli are perceived as belonging to discrete categories. Thereby, perceivers are more accurate at discriminating between stimuli of different categories than between stimuli within the same category (Harnad, 1987; Goldstone, 1994). The current experiments investigated whether the structural information in the face is sufficient for CP to occur. Alternatively, a perceiver's conceptual knowledge, by virtue of expertise or verbal labeling, might contribute. In two experiments, people who differed in their conceptual knowledge (in the form of expertise, Experiment 1; or verbal label learning, Experiment 2) categorized chimpanzee facial expressions. Expertise alone did not facilitate CP. Only when perceivers first explicitly learned facial expression categories with a label were they more likely to show CP. Overall, the results suggest that the structural information in the face alone is often insufficient for CP; CP is facilitated by verbal labeling.

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