Who Are You Expecting? Uncertainty and Bias in High-Level Vision - Professor Colin Clifford

What is this research about?

It's well known that expectation plays a large role in how we perceive the sex, age and other attributes of people crucial to guiding our interactions with them. It has not yet been established whether expectation exerts its influence at a perceptual or cognitive level.

This project will apply a mathematical model of the way in which expectation can influence perception to a range of judgements made by participants under conditions of uncertainty. The model will allow the description of how such expectations influence perception of attributes such as sex, age and attractiveness. This will generate understanding of a key aspect of person perception and provide a novel theoretical foundation for further research.

"The dissonance we experience while looking at this image indicates that we have strong expectations about the basic structural properties of a face that cannot help but influence our perception. We have recently investigated this issue in the context of gaze perception."

Other researchers involved:

Dr Tamara Watson (Western Sydney University)

Publications relating to this research:

Clifford, C.W.G., Mareschal, I., Otsuka, Y. & Watson, T.L. (2015) A Bayesian approach to person perception, Consciousness & Cognition 36, 406-413.

Watson, T.L., Otsuka, Y. & Clifford, C.W.G. (2016) Who Are You Expecting? Biases in Face Perception Reveal Prior Expectations for Sex and Age, Journal of Vision 16(3): 5, 1–9.


2015 – 2018 Australian Research Council Discovery Grant, Who are you expecting? Uncertainty and bias in high-level vision, Clifford, C.W.G. & Watson, T.L. ($395,000).


To find out more about this research, please contact Professor Colin Clifford.