The hows and whys of face memory: level of construal influences the recognition of human faces

Natalie A. Wyer, Timothy J. Hollins, Sabine Pahl, Jean Roper

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Three experiments investigated the influence of level of construal (i.e., the interpretation of actions in terms of their meaning or their details) on different stages of face memory. We employed a standard multiple face recognition paradigm, with half of the faces inverted at test. Construal level was manipulated prior to recognition (Experiment 1), during study (Experiment 2) or both (Experiment 3). The results support a general advantage for high-level construal over low-level construal at both study and at test, and suggest that matching processing style between study and recognition has no advantage. These experiments provide additional evidence in support of a link between semantic processing (i.e., construal) and visual (i.e., face) processing. We conclude with a discussion of implications for current theories relating to both construal and face processing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1524
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2015


  • construal level
  • face recognition
  • configural processing
  • face inversion effect

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