Evidence for a contact based explanation of the own-age bias in face recognition

Harrison, Virginia and Hole, Graham (2007). Evidence for a contact based explanation of the own-age bias in face recognition. In: British Psychological Society Annual Conference, Cognitive Section, Aug 2007, Aberdeen, UK.

Abstract

Previous research has shown that we recognise faces similar in age to ourselves better than older or younger faces (e.g. Perfect and Harris, 2003).

This study investigated whether this own-age bias could be explained by the "contact hypothesis" used to account for the own-race bias (see Meissner & Brigham, 2001).

If the own-age bias stems from increased social interest and exposure to people of our own age, then it should be reduced or absent in those with higher exposure to other age groups.

Participants were asked to remember facial photographs of 8-11 and 20-25 year olds. While children and undergraduates were faster and more accurate at recognising faces of their own age, trainee teachers exhibited the opposite pattern with enhanced performance for children's faces. These results support a contact-based explanation of the own-age bias.

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