What is the Mooney face perception test?

Answer: The Mooney face perception test is used to assess a person's closure.


“Closure” refers to an individual's ability to perceive something even though it is not fully represented visually (AGE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF CLOSURE ABILITY IN CHILDREN; Mooney, 1957). The Mooney exam tests closure for facial recognition.

The subjects are shown a two-color black and white image of a face on a card. The image is stripped of most salient details, with shadows and highlights being the most prominent features. Mixed in with the facial images are nonsense images which are also black and white silhouettes. The subjects are asked to categorize each image into one of seven groups: boy, grown up man, old man, girl, grown up woman, old woman, or none of the above.

Success on matching the images to the correct category improves as age increases from 7 to 13.

People with the visual processing disorder developmental prosopagnosia are still able to perform as well as control subjects on the Mooney facial perception task, despite having an impaired ability to recognize faces. (Normal perception of Mooney faces in developmental prosopagnosia: Evidence from the N170 component and rapid neural adaptation; Towler, 2014)