The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Thu Dec 2, 2021
Howison Library, 4–6 PM
Graduate Research Colloquium
Greyson Abid (UC Berkeley)
Towards a Two-Factor Theory of the Cross-Race Effect

The cross-race effect is standardly characterized as the finding that individuals are generally better at recognizing previously observed faces of members of their own race than faces of members of other races. While the cross-race effect is a well-replicated finding, there is little agreement about the mechanisms underlying it. After outlining existing theories of the cross-race effect, I argue that they all face a similar problem. They at most explain our difficulty in recognizing other-race faces relative to own-race faces. However, a complete explanation of the cross-race effect must account for our difficulty in recognizing other-race faces along with our limited metacognitive awareness of this difficulty. I hypothesize that this limited metacognitive awareness is a product of our tacit yet mistaken assumption that we can recognize individuals of all races equally well. One prediction of this hypothesis, which is borne out, is that subjects judge themselves to be equally likely to recognize individuals regardless of their race. This prediction is not offered by a competing hypothesis which appeals to our general tendency towards overconfidence when task performance is suboptimal.

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