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PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE Research Article ‘‘We All Look the Same to Me’’ Positive Emotions Eliminate the Own-Race Bias in Face Recognition

By Kareem J. Johnson and Barbara L. Fredrickson

Abstract

ABSTRACT—Extrapolating from the broaden-and-build theory, we hypothesized that positive emotion may reduce the own-race bias in facial recognition. In Experiments 1 and 2, Caucasian participants (N 5 89) viewed Black and White faces for a recognition task. They viewed videos eliciting joy, fear, or neutrality before the learning (Experiment 1) or testing (Experiment 2) stages of the task. Results reliably supported the hypothesis. Relative to fear or a neutral state, joy experienced before either stage improved recognition of Black faces and significantly reduced the own-race bias. Discussion centers on possible mechanisms for this reduction of the own-race bias, including improvements in holistic processing and promotion of a common in-group identity due to positive emotions. When people describe individuals of a different race, it is not uncommon to hear them exclaim, ‘‘They all look the same to me!’’ This colloquial phrase describes one of the more reliable empirical findings in face recognition: the own-race bias (ORB). Generally, people are less able to recognize and distinguish between people of a different race than to recognize and distinguish between people of their own race (Meissner & Brigham

Topics: 2001, Slone, Brigham, Meissner, 2000). This recognition bias
Year: 2013
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.352.6627
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