Other-race effects manifest in overall performance, not qualitative processing style

Stephenie A. HARRISON, Isabel GAUTHIER, William G. HAYWARD, Jennifer J. RICHLER

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

38 Citations (Scopus)


Other-race effects in recognition memory of faces have been well documented: It is often more difficult to recognize other-race (OR) versus same-race (SR) faces (Meissner & Brigham, 2001). However, the mechanisms underlying such effects remain unknown. Recent work has shown that OR and SR faces are processed in the same qualitative manner-both SR and OR faces are processed holistically (Bukach, Cottle, Ubiwa, & Miller, 2012). Here, we manipulate stimulus presentation times to test whether there are quantitative processing differences between OR and SR faces. We found that Caucasian and Asian participants processed both OR and SR faces holistically, but there were differences in overall discrimination ability (Experiment 1). In Experiment 2, we observed a similar discrimination advantage for SR faces categorized as belonging to an ingroup versus outgroup (see Hugenberg & Corneille, 2009) but no differences in holistic processing. Together, our results suggest that OR and SR faces differ in the efficiency with which they are encoded and processed, possibly as a consequence of social categorization that discourages individuation of outgroup (and OR) faces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-864
Number of pages22
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number6
Early online date9 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper was based on a doctoral dissertation by the first author submitted to Vanderbilt University. This work was supported by NSF [grant number SBE-0542013], VVRC [grant number P30-EY008126], NIH [grant number R01 EY013441-06A2], and a grant [grant number HKU744911] from the Hong Kong Research Grants Council. The authors thank Apollo Chu, Natalie Chu, Jackie Floyd, Kaleb Lowe, Magen Speegle, Lisa Weinberg, William Wenqiang Yue, and B. K. Zhang, for their assistance with data collection.


  • Face recognition
  • Holistic processing
  • Other-race effects


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