Unconscious processing of facial attractiveness: Invisible attractive faces orient visual attention

Shao Min Hung, Chih Hsuan Nieh, Po Jang Hsieh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Past research has proven human's extraordinary ability to extract information from a face in the blink of an eye, including its emotion, gaze direction, and attractiveness. However, it remains elusive whether facial attractiveness can be processed and influences our behaviors in the complete absence of conscious awareness. Here we demonstrate unconscious processing of facial attractiveness with three distinct approaches. In Experiment 1, the time taken for faces to break interocular suppression was measured. The results showed that attractive faces enjoyed the privilege of breaking suppression and reaching consciousness earlier. In Experiment 2, we further showed that attractive faces had lower visibility thresholds, again suggesting that facial attractiveness could be processed more easily to reach consciousness. Crucially, in Experiment 3, a significant decrease of accuracy on an orientation discrimination task subsequent to an invisible attractive face showed that attractive faces, albeit suppressed and invisible, still exerted an effect by orienting attention. Taken together, for the first time, we show that facial attractiveness can be processed in the complete absence of consciousness, and an unconscious attractive face is still capable of directing our attention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number37117
JournalScientific reports
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Nov 16
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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