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Recognising other-race faces is more effortful: the effect of individuation instructions on encoding-related ERP Dm effects

Tüttenberg, Simone C. and Wiese, Holger (2021) 'Recognising other-race faces is more effortful: the effect of individuation instructions on encoding-related ERP Dm effects.', Biological psychology., 158 . p. 107992.


Humans are better at recognising faces from their own vs. another ethnic background. Socio-cognitive theories of this own-race bias (ORB) propose that reduced recognition of other-race faces results from less motivation to attend to individuating information during encoding. Accordingly, individuation instructions that explain the phenomenon and instruct participants to attend to other-race faces during learning attenuate or eliminate the ORB. However, it is still unclear how exactly such instructions affect other-race face processing. We addressed this question by investigating encoding-related event-related brain potentials, contrasting neural activity of subsequently remembered and forgotten items (Dm effects). In line with socio-cognitive accounts, individuation instructions reduced the ORB. Critically, instructions increased Dm effects for other-race faces, suggesting that more processing resources were allocated to these faces during encoding. Thus, compensating for reduced experience with other-race faces is possible to some extent, but additional resources are needed to decrease difficulties resulting from a lack of perceptual expertise.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.
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Publisher statement:© 2020 This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Date accepted:16 November 2020
Date deposited:25 November 2020
Date of first online publication:24 November 2020
Date first made open access:24 November 2021

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