The evolution of holistic processing of faces

Darren Burke, Danielle Sulikowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper we examine the holistic processing of faces from an evolutionary perspective, clarifying what such an approach entails, and evaluating the extent to which the evidence currently available permits any strong conclusions. While it seems clear that the holistic processing of faces depends on mechanisms evolved to perform that task, our review of the comparative literature reveals that there is currently insufficient evidence (or sometimes insufficiently compelling evidence) to decide when in our evolutionary past such processing may have arisen. It is also difficult to assess what kinds of selection pressures may have led to evolution of such a mechanism, or even what kinds of information holistic processing may have originally evolved to extract, given that many sources of socially relevant face-based information other than identity depend on integrating information across different regions of the face ' judgments of expression, behavioral intent, attractiveness, sex, age, etc. We suggest some directions for future research that would help to answer these important questions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


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