Superportraits

Caricatures and Recognition

By Gillian Rhodes

© 1997 – Psychology Press

184 pages

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Paperback: 9781138877078
pub: 2015-06-24
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Hardback: 9780863773983
pub: 1997-02-27
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About the Book

As Nixon's unpopularity increased during Watergate, his nose and jowls grew to impossible proportions in published caricatures. Yet the caricatures remained instantly recognizable. Caricatures can even be superportraits, with the paradoxical quality of being more like the face than the face itself.

How can we recognize such distorted images? Do caricatures derive their power from some special property of a face recognition system or from some more general property of recognition systems? What kind of mental representations and recognition processes make caricatures so effective? What can the power of caricatures tell us about recognition?

In seeking to answer these questions, the author assembles clues from a variety of sources: the invention and development of caricatures by artists, the exploitation of extreme signals in animal communication systems, and studies of how humans, other animals and connectionist recognition systems respond to caricatures.

Several conclusions emerge. The power of caricatures is ubiquitous. Caricatures can be superportraits for humans, other animals and computer recognition systems. They are effective for a variety of stimuli, not just faces. They are effective whether objects are mentally represented as deviations from a norm or average member of the class, or as absolute feature values on a set of dimensions. Exaggeration of crucial norm-deviation features, distinctiveness, and resemblance to caricatured memory traces are all potential sources of the power of caricature.

Superportraits will be of interest to students of cognitive psychology, perception, the visual arts and animal behavior.

About the Series

Essays in Cognitive Psychology

Essays in Cognitive Psychology is designed to meet the need for rapid publication of brief volumes in cognitive psychology.

Primary topics include perception, movement and action, attention, memory, mental representation, language and problem solving.

Furthermore, the series seeks to define cognitive psychology in its broadest sense, encompassing all topics either informed by, or informing, the study of mental processes. As such, it covers a wide range of subjects including computational approaches to cognition, cognitive neuroscience, social cognition, and cognitive development, as well as areas more traditionally defined as cognitive psychology.

Each volume in the series makes a conceptual contribution to the topic by reviewing and synthesizing the existing research literature, by advancing theory in the area, or by some combination of these missions.

The principal aim is that authors provide an overview of their own highly successful research program in an area.

Volumes also include an assessment of current knowledge and identification of possible future trends in research.

Each book is a self-contained unit supplying the advanced reader with a well-structured review of the work described and evaluated.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSY008000
PSYCHOLOGY / Cognitive Psychology