Perception of age in adult Caucasian male faces: computer graphic manipulation of shape and colour information

Burt D.M. & Perrett D.I. (1995)

Proc. R. Soc. 259, 137-143.


This study investigated visual cues to age by using facial composites which blend shape and colour information from multiple faces. Baseline measurements showed that perceived age of adult male faces is on average an accurate index of their chronological age over the age range 20-60 years. Composite images were made from multiple images of different faces by averaging face shape and then blending red, green and blue intensity (RGB colour) across comparable pixels. The perceived age of these composites or blended images depended on the age bracket of the component faces. Blended faces were, however, rated younger than their component faces, a trend that became more marked with increased component age. The techniques used provide an empirical definition of facial changes with age that are biologically consistent across a sample population. The perceived age of a blend of older faces was increased by exaggerating the RGB colour differences of each pixel relative to a blend of younger faces. This effect on perceived age was not attributable to enhanced contrast or colour saturation. Age-related visual cues defined from the difference between blends of young and old faces were applied to individual faces. These transformations increased perceived age.

Perception lab. School of Psychology