Scientists Share How Faces Guide and Reflect Our Lives

A special issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science brings together innovative research and theory in psychological science, computer science, neuroscience, and related fields, illuminating the myriad ways in which face perception infuses how we think and behave.

In this issue, “researchers from diverse areas within the psychological sciences illustrate various cognitive processes and social consequences, extending from face perception’s basic foundations in recognition, human development, and social and economic behavior, through individual and cultural variation in face processing, to the cutting-edge application of tools in computer science,” writes psychological scientist Nicholas O. Rule of the University of Toronto in his introduction to the special issue.

The special issue delves into the mechanisms that underlie face perception, exploring the adaptive functions that likely contribute to recognizing faces and facial expressions, the origins and developmental trajectory of face recognition across different people, and the reasons why we sometimes make errors when it comes to recognizing certain faces.

The issue also shows how:

  • we use information from faces to make judgments about other people;
  • biases in how we recognize emotions in faces can contribute to the onset and maintenance of mood disorders; and
  • face perception ultimately guides our behavior towards others.

“Together, this collection of brief and accessible reviews will help readers to cultivate an understanding of how humans create and extract meaning from the face, justifying why it maintains such a high priority in perception, cognition, and behavior,” Rule writes.