Race Categories Modulated the Perceived Lightness of Faces

36 Pages Posted: 13 May 2022

See all articles by Linlin Yan

Linlin Yan

Zhejiang Sci-tech University

Yiwen Zhu

Zhejiang Sci-tech University

Yang Shen

Zhejiang Sci-tech University

Yajie Liang

Zhejiang Sci-tech University

Zhe Wang

Zhejiang Sci-tech University

Yu-Hao P. Sun

Zhejiang Sci-tech University

Naiqi G. Xiao

McMaster University

Abstract

The perception of lightness is context-dependent, which can be revealed in the influence of face races on the perceived face lightness. Participants perceived African faces as darker than Caucasian faces even though they were matched for mean luminance, which is called “face race lightness illusion” (FRL illusion). However, some findings indicated that the FRL illusion remained even when face race information was undetectable. The discrepancy challenges the role of race categories: Is the distorted lightness perception induced by the knowledge about face-race?To address this question, we manipulated the orientation of the two faces of the same race (African, Caucasian, or African-Caucasian ambiguous) sequentially displayed across participants: Upright-Upright, Inverted-Inverted, Upright-Inverted, and Inverted-Upright. One hundred and twenty-eight Caucasian participants were recruited to see two rapidly sequentially presented faces and report which one was lighter (or darker). The two faces within each trial were of the same race: African, African-Caucasian ambiguous, or Caucasian. While the luminance of the first face was matched across the African, African-Caucasian ambiguous, and Caucasian face trials, the luminance of the second face was decreased or increased by 4 levels (-20, -12, -8, -4, +4, +8, +12, & +20).Overall, African faces were perceived significantly darker than Caucasian faces when the faces were both upright, but there was no lightness perception bias in African-Caucasian ambiguous faces (Experiment 1). However, this face race lightness illusion between African and Caucasian faces disappeared when the faces were both inverted (Experiment 2). Lastly, the lightness illusion between African and Caucasian faces was found only when the first face was upright regardless of the orientation of the second face (Experiment 3 and Experiment 4).Together, these findings of orientation-specificity suggest that the FRL illusion was not due to low-level stimulus artifacts but driven by the conceptual knowledge of face races.

Keywords: Perception, Race, Lightness, Point of subjective equality

Suggested Citation

Yan, Linlin and Zhu, Yiwen and Shen, Yang and Liang, Yajie and Wang, Zhe and Sun, Yu-Hao P. and Xiao, Naiqi G., Race Categories Modulated the Perceived Lightness of Faces. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4108571 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4108571

Linlin Yan (Contact Author)

Zhejiang Sci-tech University ( email )

Yiwen Zhu

Zhejiang Sci-tech University ( email )

Yang Shen

Zhejiang Sci-tech University ( email )

Yajie Liang

Zhejiang Sci-tech University ( email )

Zhe Wang

Zhejiang Sci-tech University ( email )

Yu-Hao P. Sun

Zhejiang Sci-tech University ( email )

Naiqi G. Xiao

McMaster University ( email )

1280 Main Street West
Hamilton
Canada

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