People are better at recognising faces of their own-race than faces of other racial groups. This own-race bias (ORB) in face recognition manifests in some studies as a full cross-over interaction between race of observer and race of face, but in others the interaction is accompanied by main effects or other complexities. We hypothesised that this may be due in part to unacknowledged within-race variation and the implicit assumption that the terms ‘white’ and ‘black’ describe perceptually homogenous race categories. We therefore tested white and black South Africans on their recognition of black and white American faces and black and white South African faces. Our results showed the expected interaction, but only for South African faces. This finding supports explanations of the ORB that are premised on inter-group contact and perceptual experience and highlights the danger of assuming homogeneity of appearance within groups.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/christian_meissner/40/