September 2018
Volume 18, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2018
Race at First Sight
Author Affiliations
  • Sasha Lasrado
    Eye and Brain Mapping Laboratory (iBMLab), Department of Psychology, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland
  • Nayla Sokhn
    Eye and Brain Mapping Laboratory (iBMLab), Department of Psychology, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland
  • Kanji Tanaka
    Department of Intermedia Art and Science, Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan
  • Katsumi Watanabe
    Department of Intermedia Art and Science, Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan
  • Roberto Caldara
    Eye and Brain Mapping Laboratory (iBMLab), Department of Psychology, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland
Journal of Vision September 2018, Vol.18, 194. doi:10.1167/18.10.194
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    • Get Citation

      Sasha Lasrado, Nayla Sokhn, Kanji Tanaka, Katsumi Watanabe, Roberto Caldara; Race at First Sight. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):194. doi: 10.1167/18.10.194.

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

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Abstract

The human visual system is very fast and efficient at extracting socially relevant information from faces. Visual categorization studies employing foveated images have shown that human observers categorize other-race (OR) faces faster than same-race (SR) faces by race, producing an early perceptual bias termed the other-race categorization advantage (ORCA). Whether this perceptual advantage persists in the parafoveal visual field containing low spatial frequency, and which facial features are sampled during such categorization yet remain undetermined. To this aim, we recorded the eye movements of East Asian (EA) and Western Caucasian (WC) observers during a conventional foveal categorization by race of normalized WC and EA faces (FCRT, Experiment 1), a parafoveal saccadic reaction time (PSRT, Experiment 2) and a response time paradigm (PCRT, Experiment 3). EA and WC observers categorized OR faces faster than SR faces by race across all paradigms. However, this ORCA occurred at the rapid speed of just 300ms in the PSRT, almost twice as fast as in the manual response paradigms (PSRT < FCRT < PCRT: 300ms < 600ms < 750ms). Furthermore, fixation maps revealed a cultural perceptual bias in the FCRT, with WC observers sampling more the eye region and EA observers the central region of faces. Interestingly, such cultural contrast was abolished in the PSRT, with both groups deploying a single fixation to the middle of the eyes. Our PSRT data show that the speed of race categorization is boosted by visual field eccentricity, which eliminates unessential and time-consuming visual information processing. These findings also offer a novel explanation for eye-movement discrepancies reported on the cultural differences in face processing. Overall, our observations provide new evidence of race as a powerful rapid low-level visual signal transmitted by faces, which could relate to primitive functional mechanisms dedicated to the evolutionary-relevant social categorization of ingroup/outgroup members.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018

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