Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 1089–1092 | Cite as

Recognizing faces across continents: The effect of within-race variations on the own-race bias in face recognition

  • Patrick M. ChiroroEmail author
  • Colin G. Tredoux
  • Stephano Radaelli
  • Christian A. Meissner
Brief Reports


People are better at recognizing faces of their own race than faces of other racial groups. This own-race bias (ORB) in face recognition manifests in some studies as a full crossover interaction between race of observer and race of face, but in others the interaction is accompanied by main effects or other complexities. We hypothesized that this may be due in part to unacknowledged within-race variation and the implicit assumption that the terms white and black describe perceptually homogeneous race categories. We therefore tested white and black South Africans on their recognition of black and white American faces and black and white South African faces. Our results showed the expected interaction, but only for South African faces. This finding supports explanations of the ORB that are premised on intergroup contact and perceptual experience and highlights the danger of assuming homogeneity of appearance within groups. Author Note


Face Recognition Perceptual Experience Social Psychology Bulletin Intergroup Contact Contact Hypothesis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick M. Chiroro
    • 1
    Email author
  • Colin G. Tredoux
    • 2
  • Stephano Radaelli
    • 1
  • Christian A. Meissner
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.University of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  3. 3.University of TexasEl Paso

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