Cathy Mondloch

Professor , Ph.D. (Indiana U.)

Office: MC B320
905 688 5550 x5111

2015: Brock University Award for Distingulished Research

2011 Winner of NSERC Discovery Accelerator Supplement Award

Developmental Psychology

Perceptual Expertise

  • Face perception
  • Perceptual development across the lifespan
  • Recognizing facial identity (i.e., how useful is photo ID?)
  • First impressions (i.e., deciding who is trustworthy at a glance)
  • Recognizing emotional expressions (confusing expressions of anger and disgust)

How good are you at recognizing people you’ve encountered just a few times (e.g., at the gym)? Why do some people look very trustworthy and others look threatening? Why is it hard to recognize some faces when we travel internationally? Face perception improves during childhood, but does it decline as we age? These are just some of the questions we address in the Face Perception Lab. My research sits at the intersection of development, perception, cognition, and social psychology. In collaboration with undergraduate students, graduate students, and collaborators from around the world, I investigate multiple aspects of face processing.

With funding from SSHRC, we are investigating the development of first impressions. After just a brief glance at a face we automatically form first impressions of how trustworthy, how dominant, and how competent someone is. These impressions are not always accurate; nonetheless, they influence our behaviour towards others (e.g., who to approach, hire, or vote for). My students and I are taking a lifespan perspective to understand the development and function of first impressions. We measure first impressions formed by children, young adults, and older adults when viewing faces from across the lifespan. Sample: Are children sensitive to facial trustworthiness when selecting a partner in a game?

With funding from NSERC, we are studying the development of face recognition. When viewing pairs of photographs, it is easy to decide whether two images belong to the same person or two different people—at least when a face is highly familiar. But when viewing images of unfamiliar people, something passport officers and cashiers at the LCBO do each day, a small change in hairstyle, lighting, or facial expression can lead to errors. We are examining the process by which a newly encountered face becomes familiar and how face learning is shaped by experience. To do so, we work with participants aged 3 to 90 years. Sample: Young children make errors even when recognizing new photos of their teacher. How well do they recognize previously unseen photos of their parents?

With cutting-edge technology (e.g., eye trackers; 3D cameras; EEG) funded by Canada Foundation for Innovation, we are able to address these research questions in innovative ways.

Our work has important implications for special populations (e.g., individuals with autism) and for eyewitness testimony (as evidenced in our involvement with the TV show, To Catch a Killer). Please visit our lab WEB page for more information.

Please visit our lab WEB page or Google Scholar for a complete list

Perceiving Emotions

Nelson+, N., & Mondloch, C.J. Adults’ and children’s perception of facial expressions is influenced by body postures—Even for dynamic stimuli. Visual Cognition, in press. [Nelson was a postdoc in our lab.]

Mondloch, C.J., Nelson+, N.L.,  & Horner+, M.  (2013). Asymmetries of influence: Differential effects of body postures on perceptions of emotional facial expressions. PLoS ONE, 8(9): e73605. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073605 [Nelson was a postdoc in our lab; Horner was an MA student]

Mondloch, C.J., Horner, M., & Mian, J. (2013). Wide eyes and drooping arms: Adult-like congruency effects emerge early in the development of sensitivity to emotional faces and body postures. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 114, 203-216.  [Horner & Mian were MA and Honours students, respectively]

Cote, K. A. Mondloch, C.J., Serveeva, V., Taylor M., & Semplonius, T. (2013). Impact of total sleep deprivation on behavioural neural processing of emotionally expressive faces. Experimental Brain Research, Published on line, Dec 8.

Mondloch, C.J. (2012). Sad or fearful? The influence of body posture on adults’ and children’s perception of facial displays of emotion. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 111, 180-196.

Recognizing Faces When Appearance (e.g., hairstyle, make-up) Varies

Baker+, K.A., Laurence+, S., & Mondloch, C.J. (2017). How does a newly encountered face become familiar? The effect of within-person variability on adults’ and children’s perception of identity. Cognition, 161, 19 – 30. [Baker is an MA student; Laurence was a postdoc in our lab.]

Laurence+, S., & Mondloch, C.J. (2016). That’s my teacher! Children’s Ability to Recognize Personally Familiar and Unfamiliar Faces Improves with Age. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 143, 123-138. [Laurence was a postdoctoral fellow.]

Laurence+, S., Zhou+, X. & Mondloch, C.J. (2016). The flip side of the other-race coin: They all look different to me. British Journal of Psychology, 107, 374-388. [Laurence as a postdoctoral fellow; Zhou is a PhD student.]

The Development of Norm-based Coding

Zhou+, X., Short+, L., Chan+, H., & Mondloch, C.J. (2016). Judging normality and attractiveness in faces: Direct evidence of a more refined representation for own-race, young adult faces. Perception, 45, 973-990 [Zhou and Short were PhD students; Chan was a high school mentorship student.]

Short, L.A., Mondloch, C.J., Hackland, A. (2015). Attractiveness judgments and discrimination of mommies and grandmas: Perceptual tuning for young adult faces. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology,129, 1-11. [Short was a phD student; Hackland was an Honours Thesis student].

Short, L.A., Lee, K., Fu, G., & Mondloch, C.J. (2014). Category-specific face prototypes are emerging, but not yet mature, in 5-year-old children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 126, 161-177. [Short was a PhD student].

Short, L.A., Hatry, A.J., & Mondloch, C.J. (2011). The development of norm-based coding and race-specific face prototypes: An examination of 5- and 8-year-olds’ face space. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology108, 338-357. [Short is a PhD student; Hatry was an MA student]

Cross-Race Effects

Zhou+, X. & Mondloch, C.J. (2016). Recognizing “Bella Swan” and “Hermione Granger”: No own-race advantage for recognizing photos of famous faces. Perception, online. 10.1177/0301006616662046 [Zhou is a PhD student.]

Semplonius, T., & Mondloch, C.J. (2015). Attentional biases and recognition accuracy: What happens when multiple own- and other-race faces are encountered simultaneously? Perception, 44, 52-71.

Short, L.A., Mondloch, C.J., McCormick, C.M., Carre, J.C., Ma, R., Fu, G., & Lee, K. (2012). Detection of propensity for aggression based on facial structure irrespective of face race. Evolution and Human Behaviour,33, 121-129. [Short is a PhD student]

Perceiving Older Faces

Short+, L., Semplonius+, T., Proietti+, V., & Mondloch, C.J. (2015). Differential attentional allocation and subsequent recognition for young and older adult faces. Visual Cognition, 22, 1272-1295.

Proietti+, V., Macchi Cassia, V., & Mondloch, C.J. (2015). The own-Age face recognition bias is task dependent. British Journal of Psychology, DOL: 10.1111/bjop.12104.

Short+, L.A.  & Mondloch, C.J. (2013). Aging faces and aging perceivers: Young and older adults are less sensitive to deviations from normality in older than in young adult faces. Perception, 42, 795 – 812. [Short is a PhD student]

Neural Mechanisms [A series of collaborative projects]: 

Grady, C., Mondloch, C.J., Lewis, T.L., & Maurer, D. (2014) Early visual deprivation from congenital cataracts disrupts activity and functional connectivity in the face network. Neuropsychologia, 57, 122-39

Fu, G., Mondloch, C.J., Ding, X-P., Short+, L., Sun, L., Lee, K. (2014). The Neural Correlates of the Face Attractiveness Aftereffect: A Functional Near-infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) Study. NeuroImage, 85, 363 – 371.  [A collaborative project conducted during a visit to China]

Zheng*, S., Mondloch, C.J., & Segalowitz, S. (2012). The timing of individual face recognition in the brain. Neuropsychologia, 50, 1451-1461. [A collaborative project at Brock]

Effects of Early Visual Deprivation [In collaboration with Daphne Maurer, McMaster]

Mondloch, C.J., Segalowitz, S.J., Lewis, T.L., Dywan, J., Le Grand, R., & Maurer, D. (2013). The Effect of Early Visual Deprivation on the Development of Face Detection. Developmental Science, 16, 728-742.

Mondloch, C.J., Lewis, T.L., Levin, A.V., & Maurer, D. (2013). Infant face preferences after binocular deprivation. International Journal of Behavioural Development, 37, 148-153.

Robbins, R.A., Maurer, D., Hatry, A., Anzures, G., & Mondloch, C.J. (2012). Effects of normal and abnormal visual experience on the development of opposing aftereffects for upright and inverted faces. Developmental Science, 15(2), 194-203. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2011.01116.x

Trait Perception [A collaborative project at Brock]:

Carre, JM, Morrissey, MD, Mondloch, CJ, McCormick, CM (2010). Estimating aggression from emotionally neutral faces: Which facial cues are diagnostic? Perception, 39:356-377.

Carre, J., McCormick, C., & Mondloch, C.J. (2009). Facial structure is a reliable cue of aggressive behaviour. Psychological Science20, 1994-1998.

Interplay between Identity and Emotion Perception

Mian, J.F., & Mondloch, C.J. (2012). Recognizing identity in the face of change: The development of an expression-independent representation of facial identity. Journal of Vision, 12, 1-11. [Mian was an Honours student]

Vida, M., & Mondloch, C.J. (2009). Children’s representations of facial expression and identity: Identity-contingent expression aftereffects. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 104, 326-345. [Vida was an Honours student]

Two Foundational Papers

Mondloch, C.J., Le Grand, R., & Maurer, D. (2002). Configural Face Processing Develops More Slowly than Featural Face Processing. Perception, 31, 553-566.

Maurer, D., Le Grand, R., & Mondloch, C.J. (2002). The Many Faces of Configural Processing. Trends in Cognitive Science, 6, 255-260.