(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers from the UK believe they have found the answer to the question why the faces of people of other races are more difficult to recognize than those of their own nationality.
The phenomenon, which is called the cross-racial effect , is a tendency to more easily recognize persons belonging to their own race. The effect was first discovered in the 1960s.
After that, psychologists and sociologists argued for a long time why it occurs. Historically, it has been thought that the cross-racial effect occurs because people are less motivated to attract and distinguish between members of other races, and this results in their memory being impaired.
They studied the responses of 96 people, men and women, aged 18 to 34. All participants were students at the University of Exeter and were Caucasian. They were asked to recognize faces (including upside-down portraits) of Caucasians, as well as Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans.
At the same time, the volunteers underwent a non-invasive procedure of transcranial direct current stimulation – this is a special technique to impair a person’s ability to recognize faces in an upright position.
The subjects were divided into two groups: the first received 10 minutes of brain stimulation, the second – 30 seconds (this level is not enough to cause any changes in performance).
It turned out that the participants of the second group were much better at recognizing the faces of their own race in an upright position compared to the faces of other races.
But the first group was equally bad at recognizing the faces of both their own and alien races. When subjects in both groups were shown inverted faces, their recognition results also turned out to be equally bad. According to psychologists, this means that people have no experience in seeing faces upside down.
The researchers therefore concluded that the cross-racial effect was due to facial inversion due to experience rather than racial prejudice. It is easier for people to remember and recognize the faces they see more often than the faces of people of a different race.
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