Turning Configural Processing Upside Down: Part and Whole Body Postures

Document Type



Psychology (CMC)

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Like faces, body postures are susceptible to an inversion effect in untrained viewers. The inversion effect may be indicative of configural processing, but what kind of configural processing is used for the recognition of body postures must be specified. The information available in the body stimulus was manipulated. The presence and magnitude of inversion effects were compared for body parts, scrambled bodies, and body halves relative to whole bodies and to corresponding conditions for faces and houses. Results suggest that configural body posture recognition relies on the structural hierarchy of body parts, not the parts themselves or a complete template match. Configural recognition of body postures based on information about the structural hierarchy of parts defines an important point on the configural processing continuum, between recognition based on first-order spatial relations and recognition based on holistic undifferentiated template matching.

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© 2006 American Psychological Association