Social perception and aging: The relationship between aging and the perception of subtle changes in facial happiness and identity

Yang T., Penton T., Köybaşı Ş. L., Banissy M. J.

Acta Psychologica, vol.179, pp.23-29, 2017 (SSCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 179
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2017.06.006
  • Journal Name: Acta Psychologica
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.23-29
  • Keywords: Emotion, Aging, Aging, Face perception, Lifespan, Social perception
  • Istanbul Medipol University Affiliated: Yes


Previous findings suggest that older adults show impairments in the social perception of faces, including the perception of emotion and facial identity. The majority of this work has tended to examine performance on tasks involving young adult faces and prototypical emotions. While useful, this can influence performance differences between groups due to perceptual biases and limitations on task performance. Here we sought to examine how typical aging is associated with the perception of subtle changes in facial happiness and facial identity in older adult faces. We developed novel tasks that permitted the ability to assess facial happiness, facial identity, and non-social perception (object perception) across similar task parameters. We observe that aging is linked with declines in the ability to make fine-grained judgements in the perception of facial happiness and facial identity (from older adult faces), but not for non-social (object) perception. This pattern of results is discussed in relation to mechanisms that may contribute to declines in facial perceptual processing in older adulthood.