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Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2012 May;16(2):116-42. doi: 10.1177/1088868311418987. Epub 2011 Aug 30.

Perception and motivation in face recognition: a critical review of theories of the Cross-Race Effect.

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  • 1Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA.


Although humans possess well-developed face processing expertise, face processing is nevertheless subject to a variety of biases. Perhaps the best known of these biases is the Cross-Race Effect--the tendency to have more accurate recognition for same-race than cross-race faces. The current work reviews the evidence for and provides a critical review of theories of the Cross-Race Effect, including perceptual expertise and social cognitive accounts of the bias. The authors conclude that recent hybrid models of the Cross-Race Effect, which combine elements of both perceptual expertise and social cognitive frameworks, provide an opportunity for theoretical synthesis and advancement not afforded by independent expertise or social cognitive models. Finally, the authors suggest future research directions intended to further develop a comprehensive and integrative understanding of biases in face recognition.

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