ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2013, Vol. 45 ›› Issue (2): 169-178.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2013.00169

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An Eye-tracking Research on the Other Race Effect During Face Processing in Preschool Children

WANG Qiandong;HU Chao;FU Genyue   

  1. (1 Department of Psychology, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua 321004, China) (2 Department of Human Development and Applied Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto M5R 2X2, Canada) (3 Hangzhou College for Kindergarten Teachers, Zhejiang Normal University, Hangzhou 310012, China)
  • Received:2012-06-08 Published:2013-02-28 Online:2013-02-28
  • Contact: FU Genyue

Abstract: Processing faces is important for our adaptation in human society because perceiving others’ thoughts and emotions through their faces are necessary for social communication and cooperation. Exploration into this issue provides a better understanding of the role of experience in the formation of visual processing expertise and the origin and establishment of racial prejudice and stereotypes. In this field, there is an effect confirmed by many research studies: the Other Race Effect (ORE). That is, individuals generally recognize own-race faces more accurately and faster than other-race faces. The existing behavioral and neural imaging studies have provided a great deal of insights into ORE, yet little is known about how individuals visually scan own- and other-race faces. Eye-tracking is one of the ideal methodologies for exploring this problem because it allows for recording the fixation of various observers on various parts of the face in real time with relatively high temporal and spatial resolution There have been several recent studies on ORE that have used the eye-tracking methodology. However, there exists a marked difference between the findings. Caldera, Kelly and their colleagues found that although Caucasian and Chinese adults use differently scanning strategies (the eye centric strategy by Caucasians and the nose centric strategy by Chinese), their scanning strategies for both own- and other race faces were the same. However, Fu and his colleagues (2011) found that the Chinese adults’ scanning strategies used for own- and other race faces were different. It should be noted, participants used in the research studies of Caldera, Kelly and their colleagues, the Chinese participants are all studying abroad, they may have enough visual experience to affect their eye-movement model before they attend the experiments. In order to confirm Fu and his colleagues’ results, and explore preschool children’s face processing strategies for own and other race faces, we did a face-recognition research on native Chinese children aged from 4~7 years and native Chinese adults as controls. They had never had direct contact with other-race individuals. We first showed the participants a set of Chinese and Western Caucasian faces, instructing them to remember these "acquaintance". Then these photos will be mixed with other "no-acquaintance" photos in the following testing period. The participants should judge whether the photos were acquaintance one by one. We used a Tobii eye tracker to record the participants’ fixations on the faces. The present results showed that: (1) Chinese participants (no matter preschool children or adults) were more inclined to scan the nose and mouth region of Chinese faces than that of Caucasian faces, and more inclined to scan the eye region of Caucasian faces than that of Chinese faces; (2) Adults showed more holistic perceptual strategies (scanning the nose region of the faces) than preschool children. The results confirmed Fu et al’s finding and supported the expert-novice hypothesis.

Key words: preschool children, face processing, other race effect, eye movements