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Psychol Sci. 2006 May;17(5):387-92.

Priming race in biracial observers affects visual search for Black and White faces.

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1
Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. jchiao@wjh.harvard.edu

Abstract

We examined whether or not priming racial identity would influence Black-White biracial individuals' ability to visually search for White and Black faces. Black, White, and biracial participants performed a visual search task in which the targets were Black or White faces. Before the task, the biracial participants were primed with either their Black or their White racial identity. All participant groups detected Black faces faster than White faces. Critically, the results also showed a racial-prime effect in biracial individuals: The magnitude of the search asymmetry was significantly different for those primed with their White identity and those primed with their Black identity. These findings suggest that top-down factors such as one's racial identity can influence mechanisms underlying the visual search for faces of different races.

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