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Ryo Kyung Lee, Isabelle Bülthoff, Regine Armann, Christian Wallraven, Heinrich Bülthoff; The other-race effect is not ubiquitous. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):626. doi: 10.1167/11.11.626.
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The fact that own-race faces are easier to recognize than those from another race (the other-race effect or ORE) has been widely cited. Nevertheless, recognizing the identity of a face is a complex task among many others; hence it might be premature to conclude that own-race faces are always easier to process. We investigated whether same-race faces still have a processing advantage over other-race faces when only ethnicity-related information is available to differentiate between faces. We morphed the ethnicity of 20 Caucasians and 20 Asians faces toward their other-race counterpart while keeping their idiosyncratic, identity-related features. Morphing was done at three levels (20%, 50%, and 80% toward the other race). The task for two groups of participants (25 Tübingen and 26 Seoul participants) was to report which face looks more Caucasian (or Asian) after looking at the original face and a morphed face sharing the same idiosyncratic features. Both faces were presented side by side on a computer monitor in one task and sequentially in another task. Importantly, we found no evidence for an ORE in participants' performance and no performance difference between Tübingen and Seoul participants. Both groups were equally good and equally fast at comparing the ethnicity of two faces regardless of the task, the ethnicity of the faces and the question asked. However, we did find evidence that Seoul and Tübingen participants used different viewing strategies. By investigating their eye-movements in the sequential task, we found that the ethnicity of participants affected fixation durations on specific areas of the face, especially the nose. Also, the type of questions asked and stimulus race altered the pattern of eye movements. These results suggest that although Caucasians and Asians were equally good at dealing with ethnicity information of both races, they might employ different viewing strategies.
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