Face format at encoding affects the other-race effect in face memory

Mintao Zhao, William G Hayward, Isabelle Bülthoff

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Memory of own-race faces is generally better than memory of other-races faces. This other-race effect (ORE) in face memory has been attributed to differences in contact, holistic processing, and motivation to individuate faces. Since most studies demonstrate the ORE with participants learning and recognizing static, single-view faces, it remains unclear whether the ORE can be generalized to different face learning conditions. Using an old/new recognition task, we tested whether face format at encoding modulates the ORE. The results showed a significant ORE when participants learned static, single-view faces (Experiment 1). In contrast, the ORE disappeared when participants learned rigidly moving faces (Experiment 2). Moreover, learning faces displayed from four discrete views produced the same results as learning rigidly moving faces (Experiment 3). Contact with other-race faces was correlated with the magnitude of the ORE. Nonetheless, the absence of the ORE in Experiments 2 and 3 cannot be readily explained by either more frequent contact with other-race faces or stronger motivation to individuate them. These results demonstrate that the ORE is sensitive to face format at encoding, supporting the hypothesis that relative involvement of holistic and featural processing at encoding mediates the ORE observed in face memory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014

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