An own-race advantage for components as well as configurations in face recognition

Cognition. 2008 Feb;106(2):1017-27. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2007.04.002. Epub 2007 May 23.


The own-race advantage in face recognition has been hypothesized as being due to a superiority in the processing of configural information for own-race faces. Here we examined the contributions of both configural and component processing to the own-race advantage. We recruited 48 Caucasian participants in Australia and 48 Chinese participants in Hong Kong, and had them study Caucasian and Chinese faces. After study, they were shown old faces (along with distractors) that were either blurred (isolating configural processing), in which high spatial frequencies were removed from the intact faces, or scrambled (isolating component processing), in which the locations of all face components were rearranged. Participants performed better on the memory test for own-race faces in both the blurred (configural) and scrambled (component) conditions, showing an own-race advantage for both configural and component processing. These results suggest that the own-race advantage in face recognition is due to a general facilitation in different forms of face processing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group
  • Ethnic Groups*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*