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Would it be likely that the advantage in matching of female compared to male faces was due to non-face stimuli, such as longer hair in female faces?

Since the hair is usually much longer and unique (hair style) for females, do you think that the advantage in matching of female faces would be caused by these non-face factors? For example, do you think the advantage would remain using faces after removing the hair?

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Thank you very much for your question. Certainly hair style, and thus a greater amount of details, could be one of the factors contributing to the advantage in recognizing female faces. Our main aim was to investigate possible hemispheric asymmetries, thus we considered the possibility you suggest, as specified in the “Stimuli” section of the article: “In order to make the gender of faces well-distinguishable, all female actresses had long hair and all male actors had short hair”. Thus, we have specifically chosen the stimuli in order to differentiate between “simpler pattern” (short hair: less details) and “more complex pattern” (long hair, different hair style).

Giulia Prete

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Thanks for your reply which is very helpful for understanding why you kept hair for female feces (e.g., "to make the gender of faces well-distinguishable").

Although the main contribution of this paper is about the hemispheric asymmetries, the result of "advantage in matching of female compared to male faces" would be somehow misleading if participants used non-face information (e.g., hair style) to do the matching tasks (i.e., whether the sample and target faces are from the same person?)? I am not sure but this is indeed a very interesting finding. Do you have more data to support the sex differences in face matching tasks (not hair matching task :) )?

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I suggest you to read this article (in which the authors presented faces in which all possible features that could help the gender recognition were deleted, as beard, earrings, and make-up):

Parente R. & Tommasi L. (2008). A bias for the female face in the right hemisphere. Laterality

13(4):374–386. DOI:10.1080/13576500802103495.

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