Left-right facial orientation of familiar faces: developmental aspects of « the mere exposure hypothesis »

Front Psychol. 2010 Sep 14:1:39. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00039. eCollection 2010.


We investigated the developmental aspect of sensitivity to the orientation of familiar faces by asking 38 adults and 72 children from 3 to 12 years old to make a preference choice between standard and mirror images of themselves and of familiar faces, presented side-by-side or successively. When familiar (parental) faces were presented simultaneously, 3- to 5-year-olds showed no preference, but by age 5-7 years an adult-like preference for the standard image emerged. Similarly, the adult-like preference for the mirror image of their own face emerged by 5-7 years of age. When familiar or self faces were presented successively, 3- to 7-year-olds showed no preference, and adult-like preference for the standard image emerged by age 7-12 years. These results suggest the occurrence of a developmental process in the perception of familiar face asymmetries which is retained in memory related to knowledge about faces.

Keywords: development; facial asymmetries; familiar faces; implicit memory; mirror image.