A Face in the crowd

examining race perception and lightness contrast

O. Scott Gwinn, Kevin R. Brooks

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution

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Abstract

The aim of the current experiment was to explore the possibility that people's perceptions of race could be altered using lightness contrast effects. To test this, faces ranging from typically Caucasian (white) to typically African (black) were surrounded with either black or white faces. Participants were asked to rate how stereotypically white or black they perceived the central face image to be. A 2x5 repeated measures ANOVA revealed that participants rated faces as looking the same whether presented in white or black surrounds. A second experiment consisting of two parts was conducted in an attempt to explain this lack of an effect. In experiment 2a, the effect of skin tone luminance variations without differences in facial morphology were investigated, while experiment 2b studied the effects of morphology without differences in skin tone. While skin tone alone yielded an effect of perceived lightness, the perceived race of faces was not affected by the morphologically different surrounds. This suggests that although perceptions of skin tone can be altered using lightness contrast effects, this is not sufficient to alter overall racial appearance, questioning the role of skin tone in the perception of race.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationASCS09
Subtitle of host publicationproceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science
EditorsWayne Christensen, Elizabeth Schier, John Sutton
Place of PublicationNorth Ryde, NSW
PublisherMacquarie Centre for Cognitive Science
Pages119-125
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9780646529189
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventConference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science (9th : 2009) - Sydney
Duration: 30 Sep 20092 Oct 2009

Conference

ConferenceConference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science (9th : 2009)
CitySydney
Period30/09/092/10/09

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2009 by the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science. Publisher version archived with the permission of the Editor, ASCS09 : Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science. This copy is available for individual, non-commercial use. Permission to reprint/republish this version for other uses must be obtained from the publisher.

Keywords

  • race
  • face
  • lightness contrast
  • skin tone

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  • Cite this

    Gwinn, O. S., & Brooks, K. R. (2010). A Face in the crowd: examining race perception and lightness contrast. In W. Christensen, E. Schier, & J. Sutton (Eds.), ASCS09: proceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science (pp. 119-125). North Ryde, NSW: Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science. https://doi.org/10.5096/ASCS200919