Willenbockel V, Fiset D, Tanaka J W, 2011, "Relative influences of lightness and facial morphology on perceived race" Perception 40(5) 621 – 624
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Relative influences of lightness and facial morphology on perceived race
Verena Willenbockel, Daniel Fiset, James W Tanaka
Abstract. In a recent study (Brooks and Gwinn, 2010 Perception 39 1142 – 1145), the lightness contrast illusion was employed to study the influences of skin tone and facial morphology on race perception. The findings were rather counterintuitive: they suggested that skin tone does not play a major role in racial categorisation. To investigate this further, we used a parametric paradigm including five lightness levels, five morphing levels, and two face orientations. In accordance with Brooks and Gwinn, we found that race categorisation of African – American and Caucasian faces by Caucasian participants relied mainly on morphological cues. However, the relative influence of lightness increased when morphological information was ambiguous and when the faces were upside down. Overall, the results point to a flexible multicue-based mechanism underlying race perception.
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