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Rachel Robbins, Dilan Perera; Holistic processing for own-, other- and mixed-race faces is modulated by awareness of race category. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):670. doi: 10.1167/11.11.670.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
People are worse at recognising, and show less holistic integration, for other-race faces. Debate continues on how much this is based on perceptual experience versus other factors such as motivation to individuate members of another race. Here we tested integration, using the part-whole task, and racial classification for four faces types matched on basic skin tone: white faces with white features, black faces with black features, white faces with black features and black faces with white features. Task order was manipulated between participants, with both Caucasians and Non-Caucasians tested. If experience is the key factor, integration should be stronger for more experienced faces, regardless of task order (WW>BB>WB = BW, both groups). If motivation or awareness of race is key, then task order should influence the results such that completing the categorisation task first leads to more integration for faces more like one's in-group (C: WW>WB>BW>BB; Non-C: WW = WB = BW = BB). Race categorisation in mixed-race faces was most affected by changes to the eyes for both Caucasian and non-Caucasian participants. Caucasian participants who completed the part-whole task first showed significant advantages for wholes over parts for all four faces types. However, Caucasian participants who completed the race categorisation task first showed a significant part-whole effect only for black faces with white features, with reduced accuracy on most whole conditions. Non-Caucasian participants showed an overall similar pattern of results, although those who did the part-whole task first only showed significant part-whole effects for black faces with black features and black faces with white features. Caucasian and non-Caucasian groups were closely matched on experience with black faces, but Caucasian participants had higher levels of experience with white faces. This experiment suggests that experience and awareness of race both affect the level of holistic processing for faces, but awareness of race has more influence on integration.
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