100 Things You Should Know About People: #95 — People Decide Who And What Is Alive By The Eyes

In a previous post, I talked about the special part of the brain that is for recognizing faces. New research by Christine Looser shows that “the eyes have it” when it comes to faces.

When is a face human and alive? — Christine Looser takes pictures of people and then morphs them in stages into inanimate manniquin faces. She shows the stages and has people decide when the picture is no longer a human and alive. Here is an example of the pictures she uses:

 

Man's face morphing from human to mannequin
When does the face stop being alive?

Her research found that there is a spot, about 75% down the continuum, where people say they are not people/alive anymore. She also found that people primarily use the eyes to decide if a picture is human and alive.

What do you think? Starting from the left, which face is “no longer alive”?

And if you like to read the research:

Looser, Christine E. & Wheatley, T. (2010). The tipping point of animacy: How, when, and where we perceive life in a face. Psychological Science, 21(12), 1854–1862.

 

 

100 Things You Should Know About People: #96 -- Past Experience And Expectations Determine Where People Look
100 Things You Should Know About People: #94 -- Repetition Changes Your Brain

7 Replies to “100 Things You Should Know About People: #95 — People Decide Who And What Is Alive By The Eyes”

  1. I agree. (before I saw Flavius comment) — 5th one from the left, to me is no longer human.

    I’d like to see this test done with different anchoring, (not take it so far in either direction.

  2. “…She also found that people primarily use the eyes to decide if a picture is human and alive.”

    Duh! This is a no-brainer… I really hope it’s just a reference mistake and not a finding from the real study.

  3. All faces look Human (Eyes, nose, mouth..) but for me the 7th is not alive, and thats beause I have other ones to choose and decide. Maybe if I’d see them individually I could not tell.

  4. I say 7 as well. If I saw 6th as a thumbnail on the web, I wouldn’t think twice. If I saw 7th, I’d think it gave me an odd vibe, and look closer until I decided it wasn’t real. If I saw 8th or farther, I would instantly know it was not real.

  5. #7 from the left is the beginning of more white to the eyes. I blocked out from the eyes down on the screen and it became clear where the eyes changed significantly. When there is more white of the eye showing is this akin to being lifeless?

    If you block out the eyes and can only see the tip of the nose and mouth you can see where the teeth look phoney and the drop off for me is the same – #7 is not real.

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