When sex isn't special: priming onto a sex decision

Allan McNeill, A. Mike Burton, Andrew Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Recognition of famous faces is speeded by prior exposure. This repetition priming has been shown for familiarity judgements (familiar/unfamiliar), semantic judgements (British/American), and naming. However, no benefit of priming has been found onto a sex judgement made to an image of a face. The absence of priming is normally explained by appealing to the fact that sex judgements can be made to a face without needing to access memory for that person, and that priming has its effects within the memory system. Here we ask subjects to make sex judgements to famous people's surnames (e.g., Tyson, Geldof), a task that requires them to access their memories for people. Under these conditions we observe the normal pattern of priming. We argue that structural, rather than episodic models of processing fit the data most naturally.

Original languageEnglish
JournalVisual Cognition
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2003


  • visual cognition
  • face recognition
  • memory


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