Professor Thalia Wheatley published research on what makes faces look alive. (photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)
Assistant Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences Thalia Wheatley and graduate student Christine Looser recently published research on faces in the journal Psychological Science. Their paper, "The Tipping Point of Animacy: How, When, and Where We Perceive Life in a Face," appeared in volume 12, number 21, December 2010.
The authors had volunteers judge images combining the faces of humans and dolls in varying percentages and indicate the point at which the image appears to be of a living person. They found the face has to look markedly more human than doll-like, the most important cues being in the eyes.