Familiar other-race faces show normal holistic processing and are robust to perceptual stress

Elinor MCKONE*, Jacqueline L. BREWER, Sarah MACPHERSON, Gillian RHODES, William G. HAYWARD

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Other-race individuals are remembered more poorly and receive less holistic/configural processing than same-race individuals, at least when faces are novel. Here, we examine the amelioration of these effects with familiarity, using distinctiveness-matched Caucasian and Asian stimulus sets. We confirmed a cross-race deficit for upright faces following a single encoding trial, which disappeared rapidly with practice on a small set of other-race 'friends' and did not re-emerge when perceptual processing was put under stress (presentation in the periphery). We also examined holistic/configural processing for familiarised faces using the peripheral inversion effect (McKone, 2004 Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 30 181-197). A test for faces and nonface objects (dogs) confirmed the validity of this technique as providing a direct measure of holistic processing; we then showed that, after 1 h of training, holistic processing was as strong for other-race as same-race faces. We conclude that practice with other-race individuals can rapidly engage normal face-processing mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-248
Number of pages25
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This research was supported by the Australian Research Council (DP0208630, DP04500300, DP0451348), and the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong SAR, China (HKU 4232/02H).


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