August 2014
Volume 14, Issue 10
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2014
Evidence for a Perceptual-to-Social Transition in Infant Categorization of Other-Race Faces
Author Affiliations
  • Paul C. Quinn
    Department of Psychology, University of Delaware
  • Kang Lee
    Applied Psychology and Human Development, University of Toronto
  • Olivier Pascalis
    Laboratoire de Psychologie et Neurocognition, Universite Pierre Mendes, Grenoble, France
  • James W. Tanaka
    Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, British Columbia
Journal of Vision August 2014, Vol.14, 1264. doi:
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      Paul C. Quinn, Kang Lee, Olivier Pascalis, James W. Tanaka; Evidence for a Perceptual-to-Social Transition in Infant Categorization of Other-Race Faces. Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):1264.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Prior research has investigated how infants categorize same- versus other-race faces, but not how infants represent different classes of other-race faces. For example, Anzures, Quinn, Pascalis, Slater, and Lee (2010) examined how Caucasian 6- to 9-month-olds categorized Caucasian versus Asian faces. Six-month-old performance was dominated by a spontaneous preference for own-race faces. Nine-month-olds habituated to Caucasian or Asian faces generalized habituation to novel instances from the familiarized category and dishabituated to novel category instances. The results indicate that 9-month-olds form distinct category representations for own- versus other-race faces, but leave open the question of how different classes of other-race faces are represented. That is, we do not know if infants respond categorically to the perceptual distinctions between different classes of other-race faces or if infants represent other-race faces more socially as a broad out-group class. The current study therefore used a familiarization/novelty-preference procedure to investigate formation of category representations for faces from two other-race classes (Asian vs. African) by Caucasian 6- and 9-month-olds. Both age groups were familiarized with Asian or African faces and tested with novel Asian versus novel African faces. Six-month-olds generalized looking time responsiveness to novel instances from the familiarized category and preferred novel category instances. However, 9-month-olds did not prefer novel category instances. Moreover, in a control experiment, Caucasian 9-month-olds familiarized with Caucasian or other-race faces (Asian or African) and tested with novel Caucasian versus novel other-race faces preferred novel category instances, replicating Anzures et al. The results indicate that while Caucasian 6-month-olds categorically represent the distinction between African and Asian faces, Caucasian 9-month-olds form a broad other-race category inclusive of African and Asian faces, but exclusive of own-race Caucasian faces. The findings suggest that infants initially categorize other-race faces on a perceptual basis and subsequently represent those faces on a more social (i.e., out-group) basis.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014


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