Impact of perceived interpersonal similarity on attention to the eyes of same‑race and other‑race faces
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Visual attentionIntergroup biasSocial categorizationSimilarityFace perception
Kawakami, K... [et al.]. Impact of perceived interpersonal similarity on attention to the eyes of same-race and other-race faces. Cogn. Research 6, 68 (2021). [https://doi.org/10.1186/s41235-021-00336-8]
SponsorshipSocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) 435-2013-0992; Canada Foundation for Innovation CGIAR 9297
One reason for the persistence of racial discrimination may be anticipated dissimilarity with racial outgroup members that prevent meaningful interactions. In the present research, we investigated whether perceived similarity would impact the processing of same-race and other-race faces.Specifically, in two experiments, we varied the extent to which White participants were ostensibly similar to targets via bogus feedback on a personality test. With an eye tracker, we measured the effect of this manipulation on attention to the eyes, a critical region for person perception and face memory. In Experiment 1, we monitored the impact of perceived interpersonal similarity on White participants’ attention to the eyes of same-race White targets. In Experiment 2, we replicated this procedure, but White participants were presented with either same-race White targets or other-race Black targets in a between-subjects design. The pattern of results in both experiments indicated a positive linear effect of similarity—greater perceived similarity between participants and targets predicted more attention to the eyes of White and Black faces. The implications of these findings related to top-down effects of perceived similarity for our understanding of basic processes in face perception, as well as intergroup relations, are discussed.