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An experiment to find out if seeing the eyes of a well known persons face is a factor of face recognition

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Nicole Aves

An experiment to find out if seeing the eyes of a well known (celebrity’s) face is a factor of face recognition.


        The aim of this experiment is to find out if participants can recognise the faces of well known celebrities if the celebrities’ eyes are blacked out and if the eyes of a person’s face are a major factor of face recognition. I predict that the participants will find it easier to recognise the celebrities’ faces in the condition where the eyes are not blacked out more than when the eyes are blacked out.

        I used a lab experiment and independent group design. The target population from which my participants were used were the 20 students in my AS psychology class (opportunity sample). I randomly separated the 20 participants into 2 groups of 10 for each of the 2 conditions. I then delivered a brief and handed out the pictures of the celebrities face down in front of the participants. I then timed the participants for 2 and a half minutes while they turned over the sheets and wrote their answers upon it.

Number of participants

Condition 1 Celebrities with eyes ( mean score out of 20)

Number of participants

Condition 2 Celebrities with blacked out eyes (mean score out of 20)


17/20 = 85%


13/20 = 65%

         In consideration of my results I reject my null hypothesis and accept my hypothesis that the participants will find it easier to recognise the celebrities’ faces in the condition where the eyes are not blacked out. The results indicate that the eyes of a person’s face are an important factor of face recognition.

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        The dependant variable is the variable that is measured to see if the independent variable has had an effect. In this experiment the dependant variable is how many of the faces are recognised by each of the participants in both conditions.

        A confounding variable is a variable that could affect the dependant variable but is not the independent variable that the experimenter is interested in. One possible confounding variable in my experiment is noise in the corridor outside the lab that the study was conducted (eg pupils outside the room talking). To control this extraneous variable I will place a sign outside the lab to let everyone within the proximity know there is a psychology experiment taking place and that silence is required.[1]



                The method that I used was a lab experiment. I chose this method because lab experiments give the researcher the ability to place all aspects of the environment under control as far as possible, and is arranged specifically for that particular study. At the start of the practical section of my study I placed a sign outside of the room letting all people walking past that there was a psychology experiment happening, and to be as quiet as possible so as not to disturb the participants. This can be found in the appendix [1]. I also made sure that all of the participants were not sitting too close to each other and to perform the task in silence.

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  • Erika Cox 2002, AS level psychology for AQA specification B, Oxford University press.
  • 2002, AS-level psychology revision guide, coordination group publications ltd

Appendix [3]


I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for taking part in my AS level Psychology coursework. All your results will be kept completely confidential, as I will only refer to you by number. You all have the right to withdraw from this experiment at any time and take no further part in this investigation, and naturally your results will not be used. I will give you each two sheets with twenty celebrities’ enpicted. All that is required of you is to write down by the picture the name of as many of the celebrities as you can. I will give you two and a half minutes to complete the task.


The aim of the investigation was to see if being able to see the eyes of a known person’s face is an important factor of face recognition. I would like to remind you that I will keep your results confidential, but if for any reason you would like to withdraw your results you are entitled to do so. I expect that all your results are within the normal range, and if you would like to know your results then you may see me at a later date. Thank you again for taking part and well done.

...read more.

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