A developmental investigation of other-race contact and the own-race face effect
Walker PM., Hewstone M.
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.