Closing a Conceptual Gap in Race Perception Research: A Functional Integration of the Other-Race Face Recognition and “Who Said What?” Paradigms

Roland Imhoff | Felicitas Flade

White people confuse Black faces more than their own-race faces. This is an example of the other-race effect, commonly measured by the other-race face recognition task. Like this task, the “Who said what?” paradigm uses within-race confusions in memory, but to measure social categorization strength. The former finds a strongly asymmetrical pattern of interrace perception, the other-race effect, yet the latter usually finds symmetrical patterns (equally strong categorization of own-race and other-race faces). In a “Who said what?” meta-analysis, racial categorization and individuation across races were only weakly asymmetrical (Study 1, n = 2,669). We aimed to resolve this empirical misalignment. As tested in other-race face recognition tasks, the weak asymmetry was not due to the limited number of portrait stimuli (Study 2, N = 99) nor to the longer duration of stimulus presentation in the “Who said what?” task (Study 4, n = 358). Pairing portraits with statements reduced the other-race effect (Study 3, n = 126). Showing each portrait repeatedly also reduced the other-race effect (Study 4, n = 358; Study 5, n = 470) but did not decrease infrahumanization of Black portraits (Study 6, n = 487). Consequently, presenting portraits only once in the “Who said what?” paradigm (Study 7, = 112) resulted in strong interrace categorization and individuation asymmetries. This finding bridges a central conceptual gap between the other-race effect and social categorization strength.