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Minimizing Skin Color Differences Does Not Eliminate the Own-Race Recognition Advantage in Infants


should be sent to Gizelle Anzures, Institute of Child Study, 45 Walmer Rd., Toronto, Ontario, M5R 2X2. E-mail: or to Kang Lee, Institute of Child Study, University of Toronto Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego. E-mail:


An abundance of experience with own-race faces and limited to no experience with other-race faces has been associated with better recognition memory for own-race faces in infants, children, and adults. This study investigated the developmental origins of this other-race effect (ORE) by examining the role of a salient perceptual property of faces—that of skin color. Six- and 9-month-olds’ recognition memory for own- and other-race faces was examined using infant-controlled habituation and visual-paired comparison at test. Infants were shown own- or other-race faces in color or with skin color cues minimized in grayscale images. Results for the color stimuli replicated previous findings that infants show an ORE in face recognition memory. Results for the grayscale stimuli showed that even when a salient perceptual cue to race, such as skin color information, is minimized, 6- to 9-month-olds, nonetheless, show an ORE in their face recognition memory. Infants’ use of shape-based and configural cues for face recognition is discussed.

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