We investigated whether similarity among faces could modulate the face-capturing effect in change detection. In Experiment 1, a singleton search task was used to demonstrate that a face stimulus captures attention and the odd-one-out hypothesis cannot account for the results. Searching for a face target was faster than searching for a nonface target no matter whether distractor-distractor similarity was low or high. The fast search, however, did not lead to a face-detection advantage in Experiment 2 when the pre- and postchange faces were highly similar. When participants in Experiment 3 had to divide their attention between two faces in stimulus displays for change detection, detection performance was worse than performance in detecting nonface changes. The face-capturing effect alone is insufficient to produce the face-detection advantage. Face processing is efficient but its effect on performance depends on the stimulus-task context.
ASJC Scopus subject areas