June 02, 2012

Looking at faces of other races (Fu et al. 2012)

PLoS ONE 7(6): e37688. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037688

Adults Scan Own- and Other-Race Faces Differently

Genyue Fu et al.

It is well established that individuals show an other-race effect (ORE) in face recognition: they recognize own-race faces better than other-race faces. The present study tested the hypothesis that individuals would also scan own- and other-race faces differently. We asked Chinese participants to remember Chinese and Caucasian faces and we tested their memory of the faces over five testing blocks. The participants' eye movements were recorded with the use of an eye tracker. The data were analyzed with an Area of Interest approach using the key AOIs of a face (eyes, nose, and mouth). Also, we used the iMap toolbox to analyze the raw data of participants' fixation on each pixel of the entire face. Results from both types of analyses strongly supported the hypothesis. When viewing target Chinese or Caucasian faces, Chinese participants spent a significantly greater proportion of fixation time on the eyes of other-race Caucasian faces than the eyes of own-race Chinese faces. In contrast, they spent a significantly greater proportion of fixation time on the nose and mouth of Chinese faces than the nose and mouth of Caucasian faces. This pattern of differential fixation, for own- and other-race eyes and nose in particular, was consistent even as participants became increasingly familiar with the target faces of both races. The results could not be explained by the perceptual salience of the Chinese nose or Caucasian eyes because these features were not differentially salient across the races. Our results are discussed in terms of the facial morphological differences between Chinese and Caucasian faces and the enculturation of mutual gaze norms in East Asian cultures.



Roy said...

A very sino-centric cultural explanation. I don't buy it.
Of course Chinese will focus more on Caucasian eyes, there is greater diversity in gene expression there
via eye colour. I live with a Han who's explicitly commented on blue eyed babies.
Conversely the salience of mouth and nose in Chinese culture probably reflects subtle morphological perceptual cues as to
their ancestral region, which eye color cannot provide.

Anonymous said...

Dienekes, out of topic, just now I found this on web about haplogroups influencing cognitive ability by Rindermann et al., don't know what are your takes on it or if it has already been posted.


Correlations and regression analyses with a general developmental indicator (HDI) revealed
that seven haplogroups were empirically important predictors of national cognitive ability (I,
R1a, R1b, N, J1, E, T[+L]).

eurologist said...

Rindermann et al.

It's hard to take a publication seriously that uses Eupedia as its main resource, rather than the original literature...

Yay, now Eupedia can circle-cite a publish paper confirming some of its junk!