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Intentionally remembering or forgetting own- and other-race faces : evidence from directed forgetting.

Tüttenberg, S.C. and Wiese, H (2020) 'Intentionally remembering or forgetting own- and other-race faces : evidence from directed forgetting.', British journal of psychology., 111 (3). pp. 570-597.


People are better at remembering faces of their own relative to another ethnic group. This so‐called own‐race bias (ORB) has been explained in terms of differential perceptual expertise for own‐ and other‐race faces or, alternatively, as resulting from socio‐cognitive factors. To test predictions derived from the latter account, we examined item‐method directed forgetting (DF), a paradigm sensitive to an intentional modulation of memory, for faces belonging to different ethnic and social groups. In a series of five experiments, participants during learning received cues following each face to either remember or forget the item, but at test were required to recognize all items irrespective of instruction. In Experiments 1 and 5, Caucasian participants showed DF for own‐race faces only while, in Experiment 2, East Asian participants with considerable expertise for Caucasian faces demonstrated DF for own‐ and other‐race faces. Experiments 3 and 4 found clear DF for social in‐ and outgroup faces. These results suggest that a modulation of face memory by motivational processes is limited to faces with which we have acquired perceptual expertise. Thus, motivation alone is not sufficient to modulate memory for other‐race faces and cannot fully explain the ORB.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is the accepted version of the following article: Tüttenberg, S.C. & Wiese, H (2020). Intentionally remembering or forgetting own- and other-race faces: Evidence from directed forgetting. British Journal of Psychology 111(3): 570-597 which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Date accepted:11 June 2019
Date deposited:27 June 2019
Date of first online publication:02 July 2019
Date first made open access:02 July 2020

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