Deficits in other-race face recognition: No evidence for encoding-based effects

Megan H. Papesh, Stephen Goldinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The other-race effect (ORE) in face recognition is typically observed in tasks which require long-term memory. Several studies, however, have found the effect early in face encoding (Lindsay, Jack, & Christian, 1991; Walker & Hewstone, 2006). In 6 experiments, with over 300 participants, we found no evidence that the recognition deficit associated with the ORE reflects deficits in immediate encoding. In Experiment 1, with a study-to-test retention interval of 4 min, participants were better able to recognise White faces, relative to Asian faces. Experiment 1 also validated the use of computer-generated faces in subsequent experiments. In Experiments 2 through 4, performance was virtually identical to Asian and White faces in match-to-sample, immediate recognition. In Experiment 5, decreasing target-foil similarity and disrupting the retention interval with trivia questions elicited a re-emergence of the ORE. Experiments 6A and 6B replicated this effect, and showed that memory for Asian faces was particularly susceptible to distraction; White faces were recognised equally well, regardless of trivia questions during the retention interval. The recognition deficit in the ORE apparently emerges from retention or retrieval deficits, not differences in immediate perceptual processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-262
Number of pages10
JournalCanadian Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2009


  • Face recognition
  • Memory
  • Other-race effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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