Date of Graduation

Summer 2014


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

D. Wayne Mitchell


visual scanning, priming, habituation effect, inverted faces, importance of eyes and mouth, eye-tracking, negative priming

Subject Categories



In daily life, facial recognition is necessary in our interactions with people, creating a peaked interest in conducting research on facial processing. This study examined the effects of priming on adults' recognition memory and scanning behavior of upright and inverted faces on a Delayed-Match-To-Sample (DMTS) task. Participants received 6 DMTS trials; 3 non-primed (control) and 3 primed trials. For the control trials, participants were first presented with an upright cue face and, after a delay, were asked to match the cue face to one of three inverted answer options. The primed trials were identical to the control trials except participants were first primed with the isolated eyes and mouth of the cue face. Response latencies to identify the correct face were recorded. Visual scanning data (number of fixations, time to first fixation, and fixation duration) were collected for the upright cue face and for the inverted target answer. Unexpectedly, priming had no significant effect on subsequent scanning behavior of the upright cue face. Scanning behavior of the inverted target answers were affected by the priming, also unexpectedly: participants scanned the primed faces more than the non-primed faces and participants had slower response latencies to the primed faces versus the non-primed faces. These findings are argued to be a function of habituation, in that participants habituated to the primed features, leading to a decrease in familiarity with these faces.


© Carrie Anne Melia

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