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Kang Lee, Qiandong Wang, Genyue Fu, Naiqi Xiao, Chao Hu, Paul C. Quinn; Categorizing racially ambiguous faces as own- versus other-race influences how those faces are scanned. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):985. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/13.9.985.
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Recent eye-tracking studies have revealed that own- and other-race faces are scanned differently, and this differential scanning is affected by observer ethnicity. Westerners scan the eyes of own- and other-race faces more than other face parts (Blais et al., 2008). In contrast, Chinese observers scan more the central (nasal) region of Chinese faces, whereas they scan more the eyes of Caucasian faces (Fu et al., 2012). To better understand the relation between categorization of a face as own- versus other-race and face scanning, we conducted two experiments with Chinese participants who had no direct interaction with other-race individuals. In Experiment 1, we morphed Chinese and Caucasian faces to produce 50%-50% racially ambiguous hybrid faces. Chinese participants first sorted the hybrid faces into Chinese or Caucasian, and were then asked to remember and recognize the faces. In addition, participants were also asked to remember and recognize 100% Chinese and 100% Caucasian faces. The results with the 100% faces replicated Fu et al. (2012): Chinese observers fixated more on the nasal region of the 100% Chinese faces and the eye regions of the 100% Caucasian faces. More importantly, when the hybrid faces were classified as Chinese, participants scanned more on the nasal region, whereas when the faces were categorized as Caucasian, participants scanned more on the eyes. In Experiment 2, participants first performed a categorization task of the hybrid faces. They were then given a surprise memory test. Again, when the hybrid faces were classified as Chinese, participants scanned more on the nasal region, whereas when the faces were categorized as Caucasian, participants scanned more on the eyes. The findings suggest that although physiognomic differences between Chinese and other-race faces engender differential visual scanning, participants’ subjective categorization of face race plays an important role in driving nose-centric versus eye-centric patterns of scanning.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013
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