Holistic processing, contact, and the other-race effect in face recognition

Mintao Zhao, William G Hayward, Isabelle Bülthoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Face recognition, holistic processing, and processing of configural and featural facial information are known to be influenced by face race, with better performance for own- than other-race faces. However, whether these various other-race effects (OREs) arise from the same underlying mechanisms or from different processes remains unclear. The present study addressed this question by measuring the OREs in a set of face recognition tasks, and testing whether these OREs are correlated with each other. Participants performed different tasks probing (1) face recognition, (2) holistic processing, (3) processing of configural information, and (4) processing of featural information for both own- and other-race faces. Their contact with other-race people was also assessed with a questionnaire. The results show significant OREs in tasks testing face memory and processing of configural information, but not in tasks testing either holistic processing or processing of featural information. Importantly, there was no cross-task correlation between any of the measured OREs. Moreover, the level of other-race contact predicted only the OREs obtained in tasks testing face memory and processing of configural information. These results indicate that these various cross-race differences originate from different aspects of face processing, in contrary to the view that the ORE in face recognition is due to cross-race differences in terms of holistic processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-69
Number of pages9
JournalVision Research
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


  • Face recognition
  • Other-race effect
  • Holistic processing
  • Configural processing
  • Featural processing

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