Biracial and monoracial infant own-race face perception: an eye tracking study

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, New Media on 2012-09-11 03:58Z by Steven

Biracial and monoracial infant own-race face perception: an eye tracking study

Developmental Science
Published online: 2012-09-07
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2012.01170.x

Sarah E. Gaither
Department of Psychology
Tufts University

Kristin Pauker, Assistant Professor of Psychology
University of Hawaii

Scott P. Johnson, Professor of Psychology
University of California, Los Angeles

We know that early experience plays a crucial role in the development of face processing, but we know little about how infants learn to distinguish faces from different races, especially for non-Caucasian populations. Moreover, it is unknown whether differential processing of different race faces observed in typically studied monoracial infants extends to biracial infants as well. Thus, we investigated 3-month-old Caucasian, Asian and biracial (Caucasian-Asian) infants’ ability to distinguish Caucasian and Asian faces. Infants completed two within-subject, infant-controlled habituation sequences and test trials as an eye tracker recorded looking times and scanning patterns. Examination of individual differences revealed significant positive correlations between own-race novelty preference and scanning frequency between eye and mouth regions of own-race habituation stimuli for Caucasian and Asian infants, suggesting that facility in own-race face discrimination stems from active inspection of internal facial features in these groups. Biracial infants, however, showed the opposite effect: An ‘own-race’ novelty preference was associated with reduced scanning between eye and mouth regions of ‘own-race’ habituation stimuli, suggesting that biracial infants use a distinct approach to processing frequently encountered faces. Future directions for investigating face processing development in biracial populations are discussed.

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