Configural face processing impacts race disparities in humanization and trust.
ABSTRACT: The dehumanization of Black Americans is an ongoing societal problem. Reducing configural face processing, a well-studied aspect of typical face encoding, decreases the activation of human-related concepts to White faces, suggesting that the extent that faces are configurally processed contributes to dehumanization. Because Black individuals are more dehumanized relative to White individuals, the current work examined how configural processing might contribute to their greater dehumanization. Study 1 showed that inverting faces (which reduces configural processing) reduced the activation of human-related concepts toward Black more than White faces. Studies 2a and 2b showed that reducing configural processing affects dehumanization by decreasing trust and increasing homogeneity among Black versus White faces. Studies 3a-d showed that configural processing effects emerge in racial outgroups for whom untrustworthiness may be a more salient group stereotype (i.e., Black, but not Asian, faces). Study 4 provided evidence that these effects are specific to reduced configural processing versus more general perceptual disfluency. Reduced configural processing may thus contribute to the greater dehumanization of Black relative to White individuals.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Stigmatization of obesity is common, but whether this stigma extends to people with obesity also being considered less human than individuals without obesity has not been examined. This study investigated whether people with obesity are blatantly dehumanized (i.e., explicitly considered to be less human and more animallike) and whether this predicts obesity discrimination. METHODS:In four online studies (total N = 1,506) with American, British, and Indian participants, evidence for blatant dehumanization of people with obesity was examined. Whether blatant dehumanization of people with obesity was moderated by BMI and to what extent blatant dehumanization predicted support for weight discrimination were also investigated. RESULTS:In all studies, participants believed that people with obesity were less evolved and less human than people without obesity. Although blatant dehumanization of people with obesity was most pronounced among thinner participants, the belief that people with obesity were less human was also observed among participants with class I obesity. Finally, dehumanization was predictive of support for policies that discriminate against people living with obesity. CONCLUSIONS:This study provides the first evidence that people with obesity are blatantly dehumanized. This tendency to consider people with obesity as less human reveals the level of obesity stigma and may facilitate and/or justify weight discrimination.
Project description:The own-group recognition bias (OGB) might be explained by the usage of different face processing strategies for own and other-group faces. Although featural processing appears in general to impair face recognition ability when compared to configural processing (itself perhaps a function of acquired expertise), recent research has suggested that the OGB can be reduced by directing featural processing to group-discriminating features. The present study assessed a perceptual training task intended to replicate Hills and Lewis' (2006) findings: we trained White participants to focus more on discriminating parts of Black faces, in particular the bottom halves of the faces, expecting a reduction of the OGB as a consequence. Thirty participants completed the training task, and visual patterns of attention were recorded with an eye-tracking device. Results showed that even though participants modified their visual exploration according to task instructions, spending significantly more time on the lower halves of faces after training, the OGB unexpectedly increased rather than decreased. The difference seems to be a function of an increased false alarm rate, with participants reducing response criterion for other-group - but not own-group - faces after training.
Project description:In this study, we investigated the effect of intergroup contact on processing of own- and other-race faces using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Previous studies have shown a neural own-race effect with greater BOLD response to own race compared to other race faces. In our study, white participants completed a social-categorization task and an individuation task while viewing the faces of both black and white strangers after having answered questions about their previous experiences with black people. We found that positive contact modulated BOLD activity in the right fusiform gyrus (rFG) and left inferior occipital gyrus (lIOC), regions associated with face processing. Within these regions, higher positive contact was associated with higher activity when processing black, compared to white faces during the social categorisation task. We also found that in both regions a greater amount of individuating experience with black people was associated with greater activation for black vs. white faces in the individuation task. Quantity of contact, implicit racial bias and negatively valenced contact showed no effects. Our findings suggest that positive contact and individuating experience directly modulate processing of out-group faces in the visual cortex, and illustrate that contact quality rather than mere familiarity is an important factor in reducing the own race face effect.
Project description:Understanding how the human visual system recognizes objects is one of the key challenges in neuroscience. Inspired by a large body of physiological evidence, a general class of recognition models has emerged, which is based on a hierarchical organization of visual processing, with succeeding stages being sensitive to image features of increasing complexity. However, these models appear to be incompatible with some well-known psychophysical results. Prominent among these are experiments investigating recognition impairments caused by vertical inversion of images, especially those of faces. It has been reported that faces that differ 'featurally' are much easier to distinguish when inverted than those that differ 'configurally'; a finding that is difficult to reconcile with the physiological models. Here, we show that after controlling for subjects' expectations, there is no difference between 'featurally' and 'configurally' transformed faces in terms of inversion effect. This result reinforces the plausibility of simple hierarchical models of object representation and recognition in the cortex.
Project description:Communities often unite during a crisis, though some cope by ascribing blame or stigmas to those who might be linked to distressing life events. In a preregistered two-wave survey, we evaluated the dehumanization of Asians and Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our first wave (March 26-April 2, 2020; <i>N</i> = 917) revealed dehumanization was prevalent, between 6.1% and 39% of our sample depending on measurement. Compared to non-dehumanizers, people who dehumanized also perceived the virus as less risky to human health and caused less severe consequences for infected people. They were more likely to be ideologically Conservative and believe in conspiracy theories about the virus. We largely replicated the results 1 month later in our second wave (May 6-May 13, 2020; <i>N</i> = 723). Together, many Americans dehumanize Asians and Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic with related perceptions that the virus is less problematic. Implications and applications for dehumanization theory are discussed.
Project description:Bodies are important social cues for animals. Body recognition in humans is deteriorated by inversion. This inversion effect suggests the configural processing of bodies, which is different from the processing used for other objects. However, it is not known if this type of body processing exists in non-human primates. We tested seven chimpanzees using upright and inverted chimpanzee body stimuli and other stimuli in matching-to-sample tasks to examine the body inversion effect and the body parts that invoke it. Our results reflected the body inversion effect for intact chimpanzee bodies, bodies with complete body contours, and bodies with clear faces but not for the objects and other conditions that did not present complete body contours and clear faces. The results show that chimpanzees share configural body processing with humans and that bodies are special to them compared with other objects. The results also revealed the functions of faces and body contours in configural processing by chimpanzees.
Project description:We report the case of an individual with acquired prosopagnosia who experiences extreme difficulties in recognizing familiar faces in everyday life despite excellent object recognition skills. Formal testing indicates that he is also severely impaired at remembering pre-experimentally unfamiliar faces and that he takes an extremely long time to identify famous faces and to match unfamiliar faces. Nevertheless, he performs as accurately and quickly as controls at identifying inverted familiar and unfamiliar faces and can recognize famous faces from their external features. He also performs as accurately as controls at recognizing famous faces when fracturing conceals the configural information in the face. He shows evidence of impaired global processing but normal local processing of Navon figures. This case appears to reflect the clearest example yet of an acquired prosopagnosic patient whose familiar face recognition deficit is caused by a severe configural processing deficit in the absence of any problems in featural processing. These preserved featural skills together with apparently intact visual imagery for faces allow him to identify a surprisingly large number of famous faces when unlimited time is available. The theoretical implications of this pattern of performance for understanding the nature of acquired prosopagnosia are discussed.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Research has shown that crime concepts can activate attentional bias to Black faces. This study investigates the possibility that some legal concepts hold similar implicit racial cues. Presumption of innocence instructions, a core legal principle specifically designed to eliminate bias, may instead serve as an implicit racial cue resulting in attentional bias.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>The experiment was conducted in a courtroom with participants seated in the jury box. Participants first watched a video of a federal judge reading jury instructions that contained presumption of innocence instructions, or matched length alternative instructions. Immediately following this video a dot-probe task was administered to assess the priming effect of the jury instructions. Presumption of innocence instructions, but not the alternative instructions, led to significantly faster response times to Black faces when compared with White faces.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>These findings suggest that the core principle designed to ensure fairness in the legal system actually primes attention for Black faces, indicating that this supposedly fundamental protection could trigger racial stereotypes.
Project description:For social species such as primates, the recognition of conspecifics is crucial for their survival. As demonstrated by the 'face inversion effect', humans are experts in recognizing faces and unlike objects, recognize their identity by processing it configurally. The human face, with its distinct features such as eye-whites, eyebrows, red lips and cheeks signals emotions, intentions, health and sexual attraction and, as we will show here, shares important features with the primate behind. Chimpanzee females show a swelling and reddening of the anogenital region around the time of ovulation. This provides an important socio-sexual signal for group members, who can identify individuals by their behinds. We hypothesized that chimpanzees process behinds configurally in a way humans process faces. In four different delayed matching-to-sample tasks with upright and inverted body parts, we show that humans demonstrate a face, but not a behind inversion effect and that chimpanzees show a behind, but no clear face inversion effect. The findings suggest an evolutionary shift in socio-sexual signalling function from behinds to faces, two hairless, symmetrical and attractive body parts, which might have attuned the human brain to process faces, and the human face to become more behind-like.
Project description:Previous studies have demonstrated that angry faces capture humans' attention more rapidly than emotionally positive faces. This phenomenon is referred to as the anger superiority effect (ASE). Despite atypical emotional processing, adults and children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have been reported to show ASE as well as typically developed (TD) individuals. So far, however, few studies have clarified whether or not the mechanisms underlying ASE are the same for both TD and ASD individuals. Here, we tested how TD and ASD children process schematic emotional faces during detection by employing a recognition task in combination with a face-in-the-crowd task. Results of the face-in-the-crowd task revealed the prevalence of ASE both in TD and ASD children. However, the results of the recognition task revealed group differences: In TD children, detection of angry faces required more configural face processing and disrupted the processing of local features. In ASD children, on the other hand, it required more feature-based processing rather than configural processing. Despite the small sample sizes, these findings provide preliminary evidence that children with ASD, in contrast to TD children, show quick detection of angry faces by extracting local features in faces.