The other-race effect does not rely on memory: evidence from a matching task

Ahmed M. Megreya, David White, A. Mike Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


Viewers are typically better at remembering faces from their own race than from other races; however, it is not yet established whether this effect is due to memorial or perceptual processes. In this study, UK and Egyptian viewers were given a simultaneous face-matching task, in which the target faces were presented upright or upside down. As with previous research using face memory tasks, participants were worse at matching other-race faces than own-race faces and showed a stronger face inversion effect for own-race faces. However, subjects' performance on own and other-race faces was highly correlated. These data provide strong evidence that difficulty in perceptual encoding of unfamiliar faces contributes substantially to the other-race effect and that accounts based entirely on memory cannot capture the full data. Implications for forensic settings are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1473-1483
Number of pages11
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • other-race effect
  • face matching
  • own-race
  • face recognition
  • unfamiliar faces
  • identification
  • perception
  • experience
  • expertise
  • inversion
  • distinctiveness
  • photographs


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