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Is it what you said or how you said it? : distinguishing between the content and processing accounts for verbal overshadowing Chin, Jason M.

Abstract

A substantial literature suggests that verbalization can be detrimental to face recognition, the term for this phenomenon being verbal overshadowing. Currently two explanations compete to explain verbal overshadowing: a content account, indicating that verbalization is an imperfect representation of the original stimuli, and a processing account indicating that verbalization causes a processing shift from global to local processing, which is detrimental to face recognition. We propose both accounts are valid and applicable under situations dictated by language ability and the verbalization task. The current studies aimed to support the situational applicability of both accounts as well as provide direct evidence for a processing shift. In study one, participants engaged in a face recognition task with a verbalization and control condition, as well as a measure of global/local processing. The results of study one indicate that European Canadians do experience a processing shift towards more local processing after verbalization. Evidence for verbal overshadowing, however, was not found. Study two utilized a similar paradigm, except faces were drawn from a more geographically relevant database and the verbalization task was more demanding. Evidence for verbal overshadowing was found among East Asians for whom English was not their primary language, a finding consistent with the content account. The results of both studies show preliminary evidence for the existence of both content and process effects under certain conditions.

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