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Sacha Stokes, Elinor McKone, Hayley Darke, Anne Aimola Davies; Poor memory for other race faces is not associated with deficiencies in holistic processing. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):696. doi: 10.1167/10.7.696.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Introduction. Recent studies using standard tests of holistic face processing (part-whole and composite effects) have suggested the other-race effect on memory is associated with poor holistic processing for other-race faces (Tanaka et al 2004; Michel et al 2006). Yet, this was found only in Caucasian subjects, with Asians showing equally strong holistic processing for own-race and other-race faces; also the studies did not test an inverted control condition, meaning effects for upright faces might not have been fully face-specific in origin. Here, we re-examined the issue. Methods. Asian subjects (recently arrived overseas students) and Caucasians were tested on Asian and Caucasian faces. Memory was measured using the Cambridge Face Memory Test and a new Chinese-face version (CFMT-Chinese). Contact with same- and other-race members was measured via questionnaire. Holistic processing was measured with (a) the ‘overlaid faces task’ (Martini et al., 2006) - an upright and an inverted face are overlaid in transparency and less contrast is needed to perceive the upright face - in a version which appeared to tap face detection (i.e., faces dissociated from scrambled faces and objects, but face scores did not correlate with memory); (b) the overlaid faces task in a version shown to tap identity-level processing (scores did correlate with memory); and (c) a standard composite task that showed composite effects only for upright faces and not inverted faces. Results. Despite a large other-race effect on memory, and large other-race differences in contact, there was no suggestion of reduced holistic processing for other race faces, for either race of subject, on any of the three holistic processing tasks. Conclusion. There was no support for the holistic processing deficit explanation of the other-race effect, implying that other factors are involved in its etiology.
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