Recognition performance is impaired when people are required to provide a verbal description of a complex stimulus (i.e., verbal-overshadowing effect), such as the face of the perpetrator in a simulated robbery. A shift in the processing operations that support successful face recognition is believed to underlie this effect. Specifically, when participants shift from a global to a local processing orientation, face recognition is impaired. Extending research on this general topic, the present experiment revealed that verbalization is not a necessary precondition for the emergence of impaired recognition performance. Rather face recognition can be disrupted by a task (i.e., letter identification) that triggers the activation of a local processing orientation. Conversely. the activation of a global processing orientation can enhance the accuracy of face recognition. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings for recent treatments of verbal overshadowing and memory function are considered.
- PERCEPTUAL EXPERTISE