September 2018
Volume 18, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2018
The effects of context on face lightness perception
Author Affiliations
    Department of Psychology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
    Department of Psychology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Journal of Vision September 2018, Vol.18, 178. doi:
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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:

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

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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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