University of Sussex
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Placing faces: recollection and familiarity in the own-race bias for face recognition

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posted on 2023-06-07, 15:21 authored by Ruth Horry
The research presented in this thesis examined the roles of recollection and familiarity in the own-race bias (ORB) in recognition memory for faces. In Paper 1, Jacoby’s (1991) process-dissociation procedure was used to estimate the relative contributions of recollection and familiarity in recognizing own- and other-race faces. Recollection estimates were higher for own-race faces than for other-race faces, although this effect disappeared when deep or shallow encoding strategies were encouraged. In Paper 2, participants were shown to be less accurate at ignoring previously seen other-race distractors than own-race distractors. Papers 3 and 4 examined how accurately participants were able to remember contextual information about correctly recognized faces. In the encoding phase of an old/new recognition test, each target face was paired with one of several different backgrounds. At testing, old judgments were followed by context judgments, in which the participant attempted to identify with which background the face had been paired. The context judgments were consistently more accurate for correctly recognized own-race faces than for correctly recognized other-race faces. This effect was robust to experimental manipulations such as context reinstatement and divided attention. The overall conclusion from this thesis is that recollection is inferior for other-race faces compared to own-race faces. This recollection deficit means that it is more difficult to retrieve specific information about the circumstances in which other-race faces were encountered. The implications of this recollection deficit for real world behaviour are discussed, with particular reference to eyewitness memory.


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  • Psychology Theses

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  • doctoral

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  • dphil


  • eng


University of Sussex

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