Holistic processing for other-race faces in Chinese participants occurs for upright but not inverted faces


*Corresponding author for this work

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

31 Citations (Scopus)


Recent evidence suggests stronger holistic processing for own-race faces may underlie the own-race advantage in face memory. In previous studies Caucasian participants have demonstrated larger holistic processing effects for Caucasian over Asian faces. However, Asian participants have consistently shown similar sized effects for both Asian and Caucasian faces. We investigated two proposed explanations for the holistic processing of other-race faces by Asian participants: (1) greater other-race exposure, (2) a general global processing bias. Holistic processing was tested using the part-whole task. Participants were living in predominantly own-race environments and other-race contact was evaluated. Despite reporting significantly greater contact with own-race than other-race people, Chinese participants displayed strong holistic processing for both Asian and Caucasian upright faces. In addition, Chinese participants showed no evidence of holistic processing for inverted faces arguing against a general global processing bias explanation. Caucasian participants, in line with previous studies, displayed stronger holistic processing for Caucasian than Asian upright faces. For inverted faces there were no race-of-face differences. These results are used to suggest that Asians may make more general use of face-specific mechanisms than Caucasians.

Original languageEnglish
Article number29
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberJAN
Early online date31 Jan 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Face recognition
  • Holistic face processing
  • Inversion effect
  • Other-race effect
  • Part-whole effect


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