Positive sequential dependency for face attractiveness perception

Erik Van der Burg, Gillian Rhodes, David Alais

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Recent findings from several groups have demonstrated that visual perception at a given moment can be biased toward what was recently seen. This is true both for basic visual attributes and for more complex representations, such as face identity, gender, or expression. This assimilation to the recent past is a positive serial dependency, similar to a temporal averaging process that capitalizes on short-term correlations in visual input to reduce noise and boost perceptual continuity. Here we examine serial dependencies in face perception using a simple attractiveness rating task and a rapid series of briefly presented face stimuli. In a series of three experiments, our results confirm a previous report that face attractiveness exhibits a positive serial dependency. This intertrial effect is not only determined by face attractiveness on the previous trial, but also depends on the faces shown up to five trials back. We examine the effect of stimulus presentation duration and find that stimuli as brief as 56 ms produce a significant positive dependency similar in magnitude to that produced by stimuli presented for 1,000 ms. We observed stronger positive dependencies between same-gender faces, and found a task dependency: Alternating gender discrimination trials with attractiveness rating trials produced no serial dependency. In sum, these findings show that a perception-stabilizing assimilation effect operates in face attractiveness perception that is task dependent and is acquired surprisingly quickly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2019


Supported by a grant from the Australian Research Council (DP150101731) to DA.

FundersFunder number
Australian Research CouncilDA, DP150101731


    Dive into the research topics of 'Positive sequential dependency for face attractiveness perception'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this