Processes Underlying the Cross-Race Effect: An Investigation of Holistic, Featural, and Relational Processing of Own-Race versus Other-Race Faces Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Adults are often better at recognising own-race than other-race faces. Unlike previous studies that reported an own-race advantage after administering a single test of either holistic processing or of featural and relational processing, we used a cross-over design and multiple tasks to assess differential processing of faces from a familiar race versus a less familiar race. Caucasian and Chinese adults performed four tasks, each with Caucasian and Chinese faces. Two tasks measured holistic processing: the composite face task and the part/whole task. Both tasks indicated holistic processing of own-race and other-race faces that did not differ in degree. Two tasks measured featural and relational processing: the Jane/Ling task, in which same/different judgments were made about face pairs that differed in features of their spacing, and the scrambled/blurred task, in which test faces were scrambled (isolates memory for components) or blurred (isolates memory for relations). Both tasks provided evidence of an own-race advantage in both featural and relational processing. We conclude that even when adults process other-race faces holistically, other manifestations of an own-race advantage remain.


  • Mondloch, Catherine J
  • Elms, Natalie
  • Maurer, Daphne
  • Rhodes, Gillian
  • Hayward, William G
  • Tanaka, James W
  • Zhou, Guomei

publication date

  • August 2010