Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Asymmetric contextual effects in age perception dataset


Awad, Deema (2020), Asymmetric contextual effects in age perception dataset, Dryad, Dataset,


Perception is context dependent. For example, the perceived orientation of a bar changes depending on the presence of oriented bars around it. Contextual effects have also been demonstrated for more complex judgements, such as facial attractiveness or expression, although it remains unclear how these contextual facial effects depend on the types of faces surrounding the target face.To examine this, we measured the perceived age (a quantifiable measure) of a target face in the presence of differently aged faces in the surround. Using a unique database of standardized passport photos, participants were asked to estimate the age of a target face which was viewed either on its own or surrounded by two different identity flanker faces. The flanker faces were either both younger or both older than the target face, with different age offsets between flankers and targets of ±5, ±10, ±15, ±20 years. We find that when a target face is surrounded by younger faces, it systematically appears younger than when viewed on its own, and when it is surrounded by older faces, it systematically appears older than when viewed on its own. Surprisingly, we find that the magnitude of the flanker effects on perceived age of the target is asymmetric with younger flankers having a greater influence than older flankers, a result that may reflect the participants’ own-age bias, since all participants were young. This result holds irrespective of gender or race of the faces and is consistent with averaging.


Participants viewed target faces (of different ages) on their own, surrounded by younger flankers and surrounder by older faces. The task was to give a numerical age estimate of the target face. The data set is the raw responses.

Usage Notes

This is a dataset of the raw estimations given in the experiments. Each excel tab represents one of the target-flankers age difference for the two main experiments. In each tab, all the target ages teseted are organised from younger to older. For example, in the first excel tab is experiment 1 raw data of age difference (between target and flankers)  for target ages from 15 years old to 65 years old. Each 3 columns are age estimtes of a target age (for example 15 years old). And those 3 columns are when the target age is viewed alone (for example the column @15_A), when the target age is viewed with younger flankers (for example @15_Y), and, when the target age is viewed with older flankers (for example, @15_O). 


Economic and Social Research Council