Abstract

Roye, A., Höfel, L., & Jacobsen, T. (2008). Aesthetics of faces: Behavioural and electrophysiological indices of evaluative and descriptive judgment processes. . Journal of Psychophysiology, 22(1), 41-57.

Aesthetics of faces: Behavioural and electrophysiological indices of evaluative and descriptive judgment processes.

Temporal and brain topographic characteristics of the aesthetic judgment of male and female faces were investigated, using event-related potentials and reaction times. The evaluative aesthetic judgment of facial beauty (beautiful vs. notbeautiful) was contrasted with a nonevaluative descriptive judgment of head shape (round vs. oval). Analysis showed longer reaction times in the descriptive than in the evaluative task, suggesting that the descriptive judgment demanded more cognitive effort and may entail greater uncertainty. Electrophysiologically, the evaluative judgment elicited a negativity (400 to 480 ms) for the judgment not beautiful, maximal over midline leads. A comparable deflection has been previously reported for evaluative judgments of graphic patterns. It was interpreted as an impression formation independent of the type of stimulus material, occurring when an aesthetic entity is judged intentionally. Besides this effect, which was independent of the gender of the face, the temporal characteristics of aesthetic evaluation differed depending on the gender of the face. We report a negativity for male faces only (280–440 ms) and a late positivity (520–1200 ms), which was stronger for female faces, both concerning not beautiful judgments. Thus, the evaluation of male and female facial beauty was processed in different time-windows. The descriptive judgment round elicited a larger posterior positivity compared with oval (320–620 ms). These results complement investigations of the architecture and time course of evaluative aesthetic and descriptive judgment processes, using faces as stimulus material.



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