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Research over the past two decades has demonstrated that individuals are better at recognizing and discriminating faces of their own race versus other races. The own-race effect has typically been investigated in relation to recognition memory; however, some evidence supports an own-race effect at the level of perceptual encoding in adults. The current study investigated the developmental basis of the own-race effect in White primary students (aged 7-11), secondary students (aged 12-15) and university students. Face stimuli were generated by morphing South Asian and White parent faces together along a linear continuum. In a same/different perceptual discrimination task, participants judged whether the face stimuli (morphs and parent faces) were physically identical to or different from the original parent faces. Results revealed a significant race of face effect for each age group, whereby participants were better at discriminating White relative to Asian faces. A significantly larger own-race effect was observed for the secondary and university students than for primary students. A questionnaire was used to assess other-race social anxiety and contact; however, this self-report measure was not found to be related to the observed own-race effect. Copyright © The British Psychological Society.

Original publication




Journal article


British journal of developmental psychology

Publication Date





451 - 463