Cultural differences in face recognition and potential underlying mechanisms

Blais, Caroline; Linnell, Karina J; Caparos, Serge and Estephan, Amanda. 2021. Cultural differences in face recognition and potential underlying mechanisms. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 627026. ISSN 1664-1078 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The ability to recognize a face is crucial for the success of social interactions. Understanding the visual processes underlying this ability has been the focus of a long tradition of research. Recent advances in the field have revealed that individuals having different cultural backgrounds differ in the type of visual information they use for face processing. However, the mechanisms that underpin these differences remain unknown. Here, we revisit recent findings highlighting group differences in face processing. Then, we integrate these results in a model of visual categorization developed in the field of psychophysics: the RAP framework. On the basis of this framework, we discuss potential mechanisms, whether face-specific or not, that may underlie cross-cultural differences in face perception.

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Funding: This work was supported by a NSERC grant (RGPIN-2019-06201) and a Canada Research Chair to CB (950-232282), a Institut Universitaire de France grant (2019 promotion) to SC, and an ESRC grant (2558227) and British Academy grant (2558241) to KL.


face processing, culture, visual perception, cultural psychology, face identification

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15 March 2021Accepted
13 April 2021Published

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Date Deposited:

29 Apr 2024 08:48

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2024 11:59

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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