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      The other-race effect develops during infancy: evidence of perceptual narrowing.

      Psychological Science

      Continental Population Groups, Discrimination (Psychology), Female, Habituation, Psychophysiologic, Humans, Infant, Male, Perceptual Closure, Social Perception, Visual Perception

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          Abstract

          Experience plays a crucial role in the development of face processing. In the study reported here, we investigated how faces observed within the visual environment affect the development of the face-processing system during the 1st year of life. We assessed 3-, 6-, and 9-month-old Caucasian infants' ability to discriminate faces within their own racial group and within three other-race groups (African, Middle Eastern, and Chinese). The 3-month-old infants demonstrated recognition in all conditions, the 6-month-old infants were able to recognize Caucasian and Chinese faces only, and the 9-month-old infants' recognition was restricted to own-race faces. The pattern of preferences indicates that the other-race effect is emerging by 6 months of age and is present at 9 months of age. The findings suggest that facial input from the infant's visual environment is crucial for shaping the face-processing system early in infancy, resulting in differential recognition accuracy for faces of different races in adulthood.

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          Most cited references 23

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          Thirty years of investigating the own-race bias in memory for faces: A meta-analytic review.

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            A unified account of the effects of distinctiveness, inversion, and race in face recognition.

            A framework is outlined in which individual faces are assumed to be encoded as a point in a multidimensional space, defined by dimensions that serve to discriminate faces. It is proposed that such a framework can account for the effects of distinctiveness, inversion, and race on recognition of faces. Two specific models within this framework are identified: a norm-based coding model, in which faces are encoded as vectors from a population norm or prototype, and a purely exemplar-based model. Both models make similar predictions, albeit in different ways, concerning the interactions between the effects of distinctiveness, inversion and race. These predictions were supported in five experiments in which photographs of faces served as stimuli. The norm-based coding version and the exemplar-based version of the framework cannot be distinguished on the basis of the experiments reported, but it is argued that a multidimensional space provides a useful heuristic framework to investigate recognition of faces. Finally, the relationship between the specific models is considered and an implementation in terms of parallel distributed processing is briefly discussed.
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              Is face processing species-specific during the first year of life?

               O Pascalis (2002)
              Between 6 and 10 months of age, the infant's ability to discriminate among native speech sounds improves, whereas the same ability to discriminate among foreign speech sounds decreases. Our study aimed to determine whether this perceptual narrowing is unique to language or might also apply to face processing. We tested discrimination of human and monkey faces by 6-month-olds, 9-month-olds, and adults, using the visual paired-comparison procedure. Only the youngest group showed discrimination between individuals of both species; older infants and adults only showed evidence of discrimination of their own species. These results suggest that the "perceptual narrowing" phenomenon may represent a more general change in neural networks involved in early cognition.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                18031416
                2566514
                10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.02029.x

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