Why the other-race effect matters: Poor recognition of other-race faces impacts everyday social interactions

Elinor McKone, Amy Dawel, Rachel A. Robbins, Yiyun Shou, Nan Chen, Kate Crookes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

What happens to everyday social interactions when other-race recognition fails? Here, we provide the first formal investigation of this question. We gave East Asian international students (N = 89) a questionnaire concerning their experiences of the other-race effect (ORE) in Australia, and a laboratory test of their objective other-race face recognition deficit using the Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT). As a ‘perpetrator’ of the ORE, participants reported that their problems telling apart Caucasian people contributed significantly to difficulties socializing with them. Moreover, the severity of this problem correlated with their ORE on the CFMT. As a ‘victim’ of the ORE, participants reported that Caucasians' problems telling them apart also contributed to difficulties socializing. Further, 81% of participants had been confused with other Asians by a Caucasian authority figure (e.g., university tutor, workplace boss), resulting in varying levels of upset/difficulty. When compared to previously established contributors to international students' high rates of social isolation, ORE-related problems were perceived as equally important as the language barrier and only moderately less important than cultural differences. We conclude that the real-world impact of the ORE extends beyond previously identified specialized settings (eyewitness testimony, security), to common everyday situations experienced by all humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-252
Number of pages23
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Volume114
Issue numberS1
Early online date19 May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

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