Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 435–449 | Cite as

Individual Differences Correspond with Attention to the Eyes of White Versus Black Faces

  • Brittany S. CassidyEmail author
  • Samuel M. Harding
  • Kristie Y. Hsu
  • Anne C. Krendl
Original Paper


Black, relative to White, individuals have experienced discrimination for centuries in the United States. Recent work suggests that subtle differences in how novel Black faces are initially perceived relate to prejudicial behavior. One such difference is that non-Black people attend more to the eyes of White versus Black novel faces. The present study sought to better characterize this difference by assessing how distinct individual differences widely shown to relate to prejudicial behavior—internal motivation to respond without prejudice (IMS), external motivation to respond without prejudice (EMS), and implicit race bias—relate to disparities in attending to the eyes of novel Black and White faces. Participants viewed novel Black and White faces one at a time on the right or left side of the display. Replicating a race-based disparity in visual attention to the eyes, non-Black perceivers fixated more on the eyes of White in comparison to Black faces. Individual differences among perceivers corresponded with the extent of this race-based disparity. IMS had a negative relationship with a race-based disparity in attention to the eyes, such that higher levels of IMS among perceivers corresponded with lower disparities in attention. Implicit race bias had a positive relationship with this disparity, such that higher levels of implicit race bias among perceivers corresponded with higher disparities in attention. Together, these findings illustrate that two individual differences known to affect prejudicial behavior are associated with preferential gaze patterns in visual attention toward faces on the basis of race.


Face perception Visual attention Race Internal motivation to respond without prejudice Implicit race bias 



We thank Stephanie Miljkovic and Isaiah Innis for research assistance. Brittany Cassidy received funding from National Institute on Aging (Grant No. F32AG051304).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA
  2. 2.Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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