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On the other side of the fence: The effects of social categorisation and spatial arrangement on memory for own-race and other-race faces.

56.529, Tuesday, 20-May, 2:45 pm - 6:45 pm, Pavilion
Session: Face perception: Experience, learning and expertise 2

Nadine Kloth1,2, Susannah Shields1, Gillian Rhodes1,2; 1ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, School of Psychology, The University of Western Australia, 2DFG Research Unit Person Perception, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Germany

The term „own-race bias" (ORB) refers to the phenomenon that humans are better at recognising faces from their own than a different ethnic group. The perceptual expertise account assumes that our face perception system has adapted to the faces we are typically exposed to, making it poorly equipped to process other-race faces. Social categorisation accounts assume that other-race faces are initially categorised as out-group, decreasing motivation to individuate them. Supporting social categorisation accounts, a single study has reported improved recognition for other-race faces categorised as belonging to the participants’ own university (Hehman et al., 2010). Faces were studied in groups, containing both own-race and other-race faces, half of each labeled as in-group and out-group, respectively. When study faces were spatially grouped by ethnicity, participants showed a clear own-race bias. When faces were grouped by university affiliation, recognition of other-race faces from the social in-group was indistinguishable from own-race face recognition. The present study aimed at replicating and extending this finding. Forty Asian and 40 Caucasian participants studied Asian and Caucasian faces for a recognition test. Faces were presented in groups, containing an equal number of own-university and other-university Asian and Caucasian faces. Between participants, faces were either grouped according to race or university affiliation. Eye tracking was used to study the the distribution of spatial attention to individual faces in the display. Replicating Hehman et al. (2010), participants in the race grouping condition showed a clear ORB in memory. However, participants in the university grouping condition showed the same bias. Face memory was unaffected by university affiliation and spatial grouping, although some effect on response criterion (C) suggests that these experimental manipulations were generally effective. Eye tracking revealed strong looking biases towards both own-race and own-university faces. Results are discussed in light of the theoretical accounts of the own-race bias.

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