Chess masters show a hallmark of face processing with chess

Amy L. Boggan, James C. Bartlett, Daniel C. Krawczyk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Face processing has several distinctive hallmarks that researchers have attributed either to face-specific mechanisms or to extensive experience distinguishing faces. Here, we examined the face-processing hallmark of selective attention failure-as indexed by the congruency effect in the composite paradigm-in a domain of extreme expertise: chess. Among 27 experts, we found that the congruency effect was equally strong with chessboards and faces. Further, comparing these experts with recreational players and novices, we observed a trade-off: Chess expertise was positively related to the congruency effect with chess yet negatively related to the congruency effect with faces. These and other findings reveal a case of expertise-dependent, facelike processing of objects of expertise and suggest that face and expert-chess recognition share common processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-42
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Chess
  • Expertise
  • Face recognition
  • Perception
  • Selective attention failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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