Does perceived race affect discrimination and recognition of ambiguous-race faces? A test of the sociocognitive hypothesis

Gillian Rhodes, Hanne C Lie, Louise Ewing, Emma Evangelista, James W Tanaka

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37 Citations (Scopus)


Discrimination and recognition are often poorer for other-race than own-race faces. These other-race effects (OREs) have traditionally been attributed to reduced perceptual expertise, resulting from more limited experience, with other-race faces. However, recent findings suggest that sociocognitive factors, such as reduced motivation to individuate other-race faces, may also contribute. If the sociocognitive hypothesis is correct, then it should be possible to alter discrimination and memory performance for identical faces by altering their perceived race. We made identical ambiguous-race morphed faces look either Asian or Caucasian by presenting them in Caucasian or Asian face contexts, respectively. However, this perceived-race manipulation had no effect on either discrimination (Experiment 1) or memory (Experiment 2) for the ambiguous-race faces, despite the presence of the usual OREs in discrimination and recognition of unambiguous Asian and Caucasian faces in our participant population. These results provide no support for the sociocognitive hypothesis. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-223
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group
  • Discrimination
  • Ethnic Groups
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Face
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Visual Pattern Recognition
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time
  • Recognition
  • Young Adult

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