The Recognition of the Faces - Article Example

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This essay analyzes that skin color is the primary racial maker in the 1700’s and till date categorizing faces into different races is mainly based on the color of the skin. Studies have shown that people tend to differentiate those from their own racial group and faces…
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The Recognition of the Faces
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The Recognition of the Faces
Carolus Linnaeus had suggested that skin color is the primary racial maker in the 1700’s and till date categorizing faces into different races is mainly based on the color of the skin. Studies have shown that people tend to differentiate those from their own racial group and faces from other racial groups recognize faces based on their skin color. This is attributed to an initial categorization of faces based on racial markers by which people identify those from their own more easily compared to those from other racial groups which is generally referred to as the other-race effect (ORE). However, whether skin color is the major contributing for the ORE has not yet been experimentally determined. In this article, the skin color of African and Caucasian faces was manipulated without changing the facial features and face-recognition task was employed to determine whether own-race and other-race recognition depended on skin color or facial features.
The research design involved the identification of a set of faces in the initial task and these faces where then manipulated and in the test phase the participants were presented with both the old and new faces and were required to press a key to identify an old and the new face. Recognition of the faces presented constitutes the dependent variable of the study while skin color and facial features are the independent variables. 48 Caucasian students participated in the task and in the initial task they were shown 16 faces in random order. This was followed by the test phase in which the 16 old faces and the 16 new faces were shown again in random order. The total faces presented were 64 chromatic pictures with 16 original African and 16 original Caucasian faces and 16 whitened African and 16 blackened Caucasian faces. All of the faces were obtained from the Tel Aviv face database with females constituting about half of the faces in each category. All the external features of the faces were cropped and the skin color conversion was carried out by extracting the red-green-blue values (RGB) taken from 16 coordinates on each face that was to be converted and they were matched at the same coordinates of the other-race face. This was followed by filtering and color-curve adjustment to complete the color conversion and all the procedures were carried out through Adobe Photoshop CS2 software.
The four versions created were presented to each participant only once in the initial study and test phase of the task and each face was shown as either old or new and were assigned to the phases based on an average distinctiveness rating obtained from a previous study. The statistical methods employed included proportion-correct response for each of the four face categories and ANOVA using the factors skin color and facial features. The results revealed that the Caucasian participants could remember Caucasian faces with while skin color to a better extent than Caucasian faces with black skin color. Such a result was not obtained with regard to African faces. Better recognition results were obtained for facial features as the participants were able to recognize faces with Caucasian features and black skin color than those with African features.
In conclusion, the study revealed that in the case of ORE facial features play a more prominent role in face recognition compared to skin color. Though own-race feature recognition was reduced by skin color to some extent it did not increase the other-race face recognition. Hence despite the general notion that skin color alone play a major role in differentiating faces as belonging to own-race and other-race, face recognition primarily depends on facial features and skin color is only a secondary component.
Bar-Haim, Y., Saidel, T., & G. Yovel. (2009). The role of skin color in face recognition. Perception, 38: 145-148. doi:10.1068/p6307.
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