Class, race, and the face: Social context modulates the cross-race effect in face recognition

Edwin R. Shriver, Steven G. Young, Kurt Hugenberg, Michael J. Bernstein, Jason R. Lanter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


The current research investigates the hypothesis that the well-established cross-race effect (CRE; better recognition for same-race than for cross-race faces) is due to social-cognitive mechanisms rather than to differential perceptual expertise with same-race and cross-race faces. Across three experiments, the social context in which faces are presented has a direct influence on the CRE. In the first two experiments, middle-class White perceivers show superior recognition for same-race White faces presented in wealthy but not in impoverished contexts. The second experiment indicates this effect is due to the tendency to categorize White faces in impoverished contexts as outgroup members (e.g., "poor Whites"). In the third experiment, this effect is replicated using different ingroup and outgroup categorizations (university affiliation), with ingroup White faces being recognized better than outgroup White faces. In line with a social-cognitive model of the CRE, context had no influence on recognition for cross-race Black faces across the three experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)260-274
Number of pages15
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Class, race, and the face: Social context modulates the cross-race effect in face recognition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this