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Ayla Byrd, Noah Schwartz; Multiracial experience leads to increased discriminability of facial features but not configural dimensions. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):863. doi: 10.1167/13.9.863.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Face recognition ability is enhanced by experience; the more familiar an individual is with a particular race, the more they are able to distinguish between similar faces within that race. The current study examined a related question: How does face processing change for individuals who have experience with other races compared to individuals who have only experienced one race? We used a two-part experiment to independently measure face discrimination ability and face recognition strategy, and compared the performance of caucasian individuals with multiracial experience to caucasian individuals who had monoracial, or limited multiracial experience. Multiracial experience was assessed using an "Ethnohistory Survey" that assessed the individual’s depth of cross-racial social experience. In Part 1 of the experiment, we measured face discrimination thresholds for seven internal face dimensions (i.e. eye shape, nose-mouth distance, etc) using a same-different task. Face stimuli were caucasian and were displayed in grayscale, and an adaptive thresholding procedure (QUEST) was used. In Part 2 of the experiment, we measured face recognition strategy using a 3-alternative forced error (3-AFE) design, a modified 3-AFC, delayed match-to-sample task in which there is no correct answer. Distractors were calibrated using thresholds measured in Part 1 and each distractor varied in only one dimension from the target so participant response indicated the dimension with the least utility. Results show that observers with multiracial experience are more sensitive to differences in featural information (e.g. eye shape, nose shape) compared to individuals with limited experience. Discrimination thresholds did not differ for configural dimensions (e.g. eye-eye distance). Furthermore, the utility of each dimension did not differ between groups. Overall, results suggest that experience with multiple races increases sensitivity to the shape of facial features, but does not change sensitivity to facial configural information or the recognition decision strategy used by the observer.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013
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