Fluid Face But Not Gender: Enfacement Illusion Through Digital Face Filters Does Not Affect Gender Identity

33 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2023

See all articles by Luca Provenzano

Luca Provenzano

Italian Institute of Technology

Hanna Gohlke

Zurich University

Gianluca Saetta

Zurich University

Ilaria Bufalari

Sapienza University of Rome

Bigna Lenggenhager

University of Konstanz

Marte Roel Lesur

Zurich University

Abstract

It has been shown that observing a face being touched or moving in synchrony with our own face increases self-identification with the former which might alter both cognitive and affective processes. The induction of this phenomenon, termed enfacement illusion, has often relied on laboratory tools that are unavailable to a large audience. However, digital face filters applications are nowadays regularly used and might provide an interesting tool to study similar mechanisms in a wider population. Digital filters are able to render our faces in real time while changing important facial features, for example, rendering them more masculine or feminine according to normative standards. Recent literature using full-body illusions has shown that participants’ own gender identity shifts when embodying a different gendered avatar. Here we studied whether participants’ filtered faces, observed while moving in synchrony with their own face, may induce an enfacement illusion and if so, modulate their gender identity. We collected data from 35 female and 33 male participants who observed a stereotypically gender mismatched version of themselves either moving synchronously or asynchronously with their own face on a screen. Our findings showed a successful induction of the enfacement illusion in the synchronous condition according to a questionnaire addressing the feelings of ownership, agency and perceived similarity. However, we found no evidence of gender identity being modulated, neither in explicit nor in implicit measures of gender identification. We discuss the distinction between full-body and facial processing and the relevance of studying widely accessible devices that may impact the sense of a bodily self and our cognition, emotion and behaviour.

Keywords: enfacement, digital face filters, gender identity, bodily self-consciousness, body ownership

Suggested Citation

Provenzano, Luca and Gohlke, Hanna and Saetta, Gianluca and Bufalari, Ilaria and Lenggenhager, Bigna and Roel Lesur, Marte, Fluid Face But Not Gender: Enfacement Illusion Through Digital Face Filters Does Not Affect Gender Identity. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4398997 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4398997

Luca Provenzano (Contact Author)

Italian Institute of Technology ( email )

Hanna Gohlke

Zurich University ( email )

Gianluca Saetta

Zurich University ( email )

Ilaria Bufalari

Sapienza University of Rome ( email )

Bigna Lenggenhager

University of Konstanz ( email )

Marte Roel Lesur

Zurich University ( email )

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