Perception of Faces, Objects, and Scenes: Analytic and Holistic Processes

Mary A. Peterson, Gillian Rhodes

Research output: Book/ReportBook

69 Scopus citations


From a barrage of photons, we readily and effortlessly recognize the faces of our friends, and the familiar objects and scenes around us. However, these tasks cannot be simple for our visual systems-faces are all extremely similar as visual patterns, and objects look quite different when viewed from different viewpoints. How do our visual systems solve these problems? The chapters in this volume seek to answer this question by exploring how analytic and holistic processes contribute to our perception of faces, objects, and scenes. The role of parts and wholes in perception has been studied for a century, beginning with the debate between Structuralists, who championed the role of elements, and Gestalt psychologists, who argued that the whole was different from the sum of its parts. This book focuses on the current state of the debate on parts versus wholes as it exists in the field of visual perception by bringing together the views of the leading researchers. Too frequently, researchers work in only one domain, so they are unaware of the ways in which holistic and analytic processing are defined in different areas. The chapters in this book ask what analytic and holistic processes are like; whether they contribute differently to the perception of faces, objects, and scenes; whether different cognitive and neural mechanisms code holistic and analytic information; whether a single, universal system can be sufficient for visual-information processing, and whether our subjective experience of holistic perception might be nothing more than a compelling illusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages406
ISBN (Electronic)9780199848058
ISBN (Print)9780195313659
StatePublished - Jun 22 2006


  • Analytic processing
  • Faces
  • Familiar objects
  • Gestalt psychologists
  • Holistic processing
  • Perception
  • Structuralists
  • Visual systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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