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YIN YAN CHEANG, DORITA CHANG; The effects of context on face lightness perception. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):178. doi: 10.1167/18.10.178.
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The other-race effect (ORE) refers to better encoding of own-race faces, resulting in better face recognition or memory capacity. Previous research in our lab has suggested a contextual influence, specifically in the form of an ORE, in face lightness perception. Specifically, Chinese participants performed the best when matching face luminance against their own-race faces and equally worse when matching against other-race (Caucasian and African-American) faces. Here, we further probed the strength of race-based contextual influences on face luminance judgments by asking Caucasian participants who grew up in predominantly own-race settings to perform a face-luminance matching task. We also tested whether face luminance judgments are susceptible to the face-inversion effect (FIE), as reflected in impaired perception when faces are inverted. On each trial, participants were asked to adjust the luminance of a target face to match that of the reference face. Matches involved same-race and cross-race stimuli shown in upright and inverted orientations. While we did not find effects of face orientation on luminance judgments, we found a significant race effect for cross-race trials, although in an unexpected direction: participants demonstrated the smallest matching distortion when matching against Chinese faces, and the greatest distortion when the reference faces were African-American. We suggest that high-level knowledge (i.e., of race categories, and of race-specific luminance distributions) can modulate luminance perception by impeding (or enhancing) mean luminance estimation for faces of different races.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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