Attending to Identity Cues Reduces the Own-age but not the Own-race Recognition Advantage

Proietti, Valentina; Laurence, Sarah; Matthews, Claire M.; Zhou, Xiaomei and Mondloch, Catherine J. (2019). Attending to Identity Cues Reduces the Own-age but not the Own-race Recognition Advantage. Vision Research, 157 pp. 184–191.



Adults' ability to recognize individual faces is shaped by experience. Young adults recognize own-age and own-race faces more accurately than other-age and other-race faces. The own-age and own-race biases have been attributed to differential perceptual experience and to differences in how in-group vs. out-group faces are processed, with in-group faces being processed at the individual level and out-group faces being processed at the categorical level. To examine this social categorization hypothesis, young adults studied young and older faces in Experiment 1 and own- and other-race faces in Experiment 2. During the learning phase the identity-matching group viewed faces in pairs and completed a same/different task designed to enhance attention to individuating cues; the passive-viewing group memorized faces presented individually. After the learning phase, all participants completed an identical old/new recognition task. Both passive-viewing groups showed the expected recognition bias, but divergent patterns were observed in the identity-matching groups. Whereas the identity-matching task eliminated the own-age bias, it neither eliminated nor reduced the own-race bias. Collectively, these results suggest that categorization-individuation processes do not play the same role in explaining the two recognition biases.

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