Do They All Look Alike?: A Bibliography of Research on the Cross-Racial Phenomenon

A wealth of research over the last 30 years has shown that identifications by witnesses belonging to a different race than the individual being observed are less reliable than same-race identifications. The phenomenon has been termed the “own-race bias,” as well as the “cross-racial effect.” It is not a function of prejudice, and does not depend on a belief by the witness that members of a particular race “all look alike” — or even look more or less similar than members of one’s own race. Rather, it is a perceptual phenomenon that appears to apply to members of all races, which social scientists have known for decades.

Below is a bibliography of research on the topic, dating all the way back to 1978 when John Brigham and P. Barkowitz conducted a study that revealed that members of different races were less accurate when attempting to identify individuals of other races.

Bibliography of research:

Anthony, T. Cooper, C., & Mullen, B. (1992). Cross-racial facial identification: A social cognitive integration. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 18, 296-301.

Ayuk, R. E. (1990). Cross-racial identification of transformed, untransformed, and mixed-race faces. International Journal of Psychology, 25, 509-527.

Banaji, M. R. & Bhaskar, R. (2000). Implicit stereotypes and memory: The bounded rationality of social beliefs. In D.L. Schacter, E. Scarry, Memory, brain, and belief. pp. 139-175. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Barkowitz, P. a. B., J. C. (1982). Recognition of faces: Own-race bias, incentive, and time delay. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 12, 255-268.

Blascovich, J., Wyer, N. A., Swart, L. A., & Kibler, J. L. (1997). Racism and racial categorization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(6), 1364-1372.

Bothwell, R. K., Brigham, J.C., & Malpass, R.S. (1989). Cross-racial identifications. Personality and Psychology Bulletin, 15, 19-25.

Brigham, J. C. (1980). Perspectives on the impact composition, race, and witness confidence on accuracy. Law & Human Behavior, 4(4), 315-321.

Brigham, J. C. (1978). The effect of race, sex, experience and attitude on the ability to recognize faces. Do “they all look alike?”. Journal of Applied Social Psychology., 8, 306-318.

Brigham, J. C., Bennett, L. B., Meissner, C. A., & Mitchell, T. L. (in press). The influence of race on eyewitness memory. In R. C. L. Lindsay, D. F. Ross, J. D. Read, & M. P. Toglia (Eds.), Handbook of eyewitness psychology. Volume II: Memory for people (pp. 257-281). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.


Brigham, J. C. (in press). The role of race and racial prejudice in recognizing other people. Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, 2005 (Vol 53). New York: Springer.

Brigham, J. C. (1978). Do “They all look alike?” The effects of race, sex, experience, and attitude on the ability to recognize faces. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 8, 306-318.

Brigham, J. C. (1979). Cross-racial recognition and age: When you’re over 60, do they still “all look alike?”. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 5, 218-222.

Brigham, J. C., & Malpass, R.S. (1985). The role of experience and contact in the recognition of faces of own- and other-races persons. Journal of Social Issues, 41, 139-155.

Brigham, J. C., & Meissner, C. A. (2000, March, ). Representation and memory for same and other-race faces. Paper presented at the American Psychology-Law Society, New Orleans, LA.

Brigham, J. C., & Ready, D. L. (1985). Own-race bias in lineup construction. Law & Human Behavior, 9, 415-424.

Brigham, J. C., Maass, A., Snyder, L. D., & Spaulding, K. (1982). The accuracy of eyewitness identifications in a field setting. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology., 42, 673-681.

Bruce, A. J., Beard, K. W., & Tedford, S. (1997). African Americans’ and Caucasian American’s recognition and likeability response to African American and Caucasian American faces. Journal of General Psychology, 124, 143-156.

Bruyer, R., & Dussart, T. (1985). Lateral differences in the race effect in face recognition. International Journal of Neuroscience, 25, 1-12.

Bruyer, S. (1987). Race categorization and face recognition stages in the processing of laterally displayed faces. Cortex, 23, 415-429.

Buckhout, R., & Regan, S. (1988). Explorations in research on the other-race effect in face recognition. In P. E. M. M. M. Gruenberg, et al. (Ed.), Practical aspects of memory: Current research and issues. (Vol. 1): Memory in everyday life. (pp. 40-46). New York: NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Burgess, M. C. R. (1998). The cross-race effect in facial recognition: A function of expertise? Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: the Sciences & Engineering. Vol 58(12-B), 6850.

Byatt, G., & Rhodes, G. (1998). Recognition of own-race and other-race caricatures: Implications for models of face recognition. Vision Research, 38, 2455-2468.

Campbell, D. T. (1964). Distinguishing differences of perception from failures of communication in cross-cultural studies. .

Carroo, A. W. (1986). Other race recognition: A comparison of Black American and African subjects. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 62, 135-138.

Carroo, A. W. (1987). Recognition of faces as a function of race, attitudes and reported cross-racial friendships. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 64, 319-325.

Carter, L. F. (1948). The identification of “racial membership.”. Journal of Abnormal & Social Psychology, 51, 339-341.

Chance, J. E. G., A.G. (1987). Retention interval and face recognition: Response latency measures. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 25, 415-418.

Chance, J. E., & Goldstein, A. G. (1981). Depth of processing in response to own- and other-race faces. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 7(3), 475-480.

Chance, J. E., & Goldstein, A. G. (1996). The other-race effect and eyewitness identification. In S. L. Sporer, R.S. Malpass & G. Koehnken (Ed.), Psychological issues in eyewitness identification. (pp. 153-176). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Chance, J. E., Goldstein, A, G., & Anderson, B. (1986). Recognition memory for infant faces: An analog of the other-race effect. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 24(4), 257-260.

Chance, J. E., Turner, A. L., & Goldstein, A. L. (1982). Development of differential recognition for own- and other-race faces. Journal of Psychology, 112, 29-37.

Chance, J., Goldstein, A. G., and McBride, I. L. (1975). Differential experience and recognition memory for faces. Journal of Social Psychology., 97, 243-253.

Chiroro, X. V., T. (1995). An investigation of the contact hypothesis of the own-race bias in face recognition. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 48A, 879-894.

Cross, J. F., & Cross, J. (1971). Age, sex, race, and the perception of facial beauty. Developmental Psychology, 5, 433-439.

Cross, J. F., Cross, J. and Daly, J. (1971). Sex, race, age, and beauty as factors in recognition of faces. Perception and Psychophysics, 10, 393-396.

Deregowski, E., & Shepherd. (1973). A cross-cultural study of recognition of pictures of faces and cups. International Journal of Psychology, 8(1), 269-273.

Devine, P. G., & Malpass, R. S. (1985). Orienting strategies in differential face recognition. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 11(1), 33-40.

Doyle, James M. (2001). Discounting the error Costs: Cross-Racial False Alarms in the Culture of Contemporary Criminal Justice. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 7, 253-262.

Elliott, E. S., Wittenberg, B. H. (1955). Accuracy of identification of Jewish and non-Jewish photographs. Journal of Abnormal & Social Psychology, 51, 339-341.

Elliott, H. D., Deregowski (Wills?), J. B., and Goldstein, A. G. (1973). The effects of discrimination training on the recognition of white and oriental faces. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society., 2.

Ellis, H. D. a. D., J. B. (1981). With-in race and between-race recognition of transformed and untransformed faces. American Journal of Psychology, 94, 27-35.

Ellis, H. D., Davies, G. M., & McMurran, M. M. (1979). Recall of White and Black Faces by White and Black witnesses using the Photofit system. Human Factors, 21, 55-59.

Ellis, H. D., Deregowski, J. B., and Shepherd, J. W. (1975). Description of white and black faces by white and black subjects. International Journal of Psychology., 10, 119-123.

Fallshore, M.& Schooler, J. W. (1995). Verbal vulnerability of perceptual expertise. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 21, 1608-1623.

Feingold, G. A. (1914). The influence of context on the identification of persons and things. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 5, 39-51.

Feinman, S. a. E., D. R. (1976). Children’s ability to recognize other children’s faces. Child Development., 47, 506-570.

Frable, D. E. S., & Bem, S. L. (1985). If you are gender schematic, all memembers of the opposite sex look alike. JPSP, 49(2), 459-468.

Galper, G. E. (1973). “Functional race membership” and recognition of faces. Perceptual and Motor Skills., 37, 455-462.

Goldstein, A. G. (1979). Facial feature variation: Anthropometric data II. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 13(3), 191-193.

Goldstein, A. G. (1979). Race-related variation of facial features: Anthropometric data I. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 13(3), 187-190.

Goldstein, A. G. a. C., J. (1976). Measuring psychological similarity of faces. Bulliten of the Psychonomic Society., 7, 185-193.

Goldstein, A. G. a. C., J. (1978). Judging face similarity in own and other races. Journal of Psychology, 98, 185-193.

Goldstein, A. G., & Chance, J. E. (1979). Do foreign faces really look alike? Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 13, 111-113.

Goldstein, A. G., & Chance, J. E. (1980). Memory for faces and schema theory. Journal of Psychology, 105, 47-59.

Goldstein, A. G., & Chance, J. E. (1985). Effects of training on Japanese faces recognition: Reduction of the other-race effect. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 23, 211-214.

Goldstein, A. G., Knight, P., Bailis, K., & Conover, J. (1981). Recognition memory for accented and unaccented voices. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 17(5), 217-220.

Hay. (1999). Repetition priming of face gender judgments: An instance based explanation. Current Psychology, 18(1), 140-149.

Hintzman, D. L. (1986). “Schema abstraction” in a multiple trace memory. Psychological Review, 93, 411-428.

Hintzman, D. L. (1988). Judgements of frequency and recognition in a multiple-trace memory model. Psychological Review, 95, 528-551.

Hirschberg, N., Jones, L.E., Haggerty, M. (1978). What’s in a face: Individual differences in face perception. Journal of Research in Personality, 12(4), 488-499.

Holquin, S., McQuiston, D. E., MacLin, O. H., & Malpass, R. S. (2000, ). Racial classification of racially ambiguous faces. Paper presented at the WPA.

Hurwitz, D., Wiggins, N, & Jones, L. (1975). A semantic differential for facial attribution: The face differential. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 6, 370-372.

Jalbert, N. L., & Getting, J. (1992). Racial and gender issues in facial recognition. In D. B. F. Losel, & T. Bliesener (Ed.), Psychology and Law: International perspectives. (pp. 309-316). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co.

Kassin, S. M., Ellsworth, P. C., & Smith, V. L. (1989). The “general acceptance” of psychological research on eyewitness testimony: A survey of the experts. American Psychologist, 44, 1089-1098.

Lavrakas, P. J., Buri, J. R, and Mayzner, M. S. (1976). A perspective on the recognition of other-race faces. Perception and Psychophysics, 20, 475-481.

Lee, E., & Whalen, T. (1995). Computerized feature retrieval of images: Suspect identification. Ergonomics, 38(9), 1941-1957.

Levin, D. T. (2000). Race as a visual feature: Using visual search and perceptual discrimination tasks to understand face categories and the cross-race recognition deficit. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 129(4) 559-574

Levin, D T. (1996). Classifying faces by race: The structure of face categories. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition. 22(6) 1364-1382

Levin, Daniel T., Beale, James M. (2000). Categorical perception occurs in newly learned faces, other-race faces, and inverted faces. Perception & Psychophysics, 62(2), 386-401.

Levin, D. T., & Lacruz, I. (1999, November, ). An alternative to the encoding expertise explanation for the cross-race recognition deficit. Paper presented at the Psychonomic Society, Los Angles, CA.

Li, J. C., Dunning, D., & Malpass, R. S. (1998, March, ). Cross-racial identification among European-Americans: Basketball fandom and the contact hypothesis. Paper presented at the American Psychology – Law Society, Redondo Beach, CA.

Lindsay, D. S., Jack, P. C., & Christian, M. A. (1991). Other-race face perception. Journal of Applied Psychology, 76, 587-589.

Lindsay, R. C. L., Ross, D. F., Smith, S. M., & Flanigan, S. (1999). Does race influence measures of lineup fairness? JAP, 13, S109-S119.

Lindsay, R. C., & Wells, G. L. (1983). What do we really know about cross0race eyewitness identification? In S. M. A. L.-B. B. R. Clifford (Ed.), Evaluating witness evidence: Recent psychological research and new perspectives. (pp. 219-234). New York: Wiley.

Linville, P. W., & Fischer, G. W. (1993). Exemplar and abstraction models of perceived group variability and stereotypicality. Social Cognition, 11(1), 92-125.

Linville, P. W., Fischer, G. W., & Salovey, P. (1989). Perceived distributions of the characteristics of in-group and out-group members: Empirical evidence and a computer simulation. JPSP, 57(2), 165-188.

Luce, Terrence S. (1974). The role of experience in inter-racial recognition. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 1(1), 39-41.

Luce, Terrence S. (1974). Blacks, whites and yellows: They all look alike to me. Psychology Today, 8(6), 105-108.

MacLin, Otto H. & Malpass, Roy S. (2001). Racial Categorization of Faces: The Ambiguous Race Face Effect. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 7, 98-118.

Maclin, Otto H., Maclin, M. Kimberly., & Malpass, Roy S. (2001). Race, Arousal, Attention, Exposure, and Delay: An examination of Factors Moderating Face Recognition. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 7,134-152.

Malpass, R.S. & Kravitz, J. (1969). Recognition for faces of own and other ‘race’. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology., 13, 330-334.

Malpass, R. S. (1974). Racial bias in eyewitness identification. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 1, 42-44.

Malpass, R. S., Lavigueur, H., & Weldon, D.E. (1973). Verbal and visual training in face recognition. Perception and Psychophysics, 14, 285-292.

Malpass, Roy S. (1990). An excursion into utilitarian analysis. Behavior Science Research, 24(1-4), 1-15.

Malpass, Roy S. (1993). They all look alike to me. in G. Brannigan and M.R. Merrens, (Ed) The Undaunted Psychologist: Adventures in Research, 75-88. Philadelphia, PA, USA: Temple University Press.

Meissner, Christian A. & Brigham, John C. (2001). Thirty Years of Investigating the Own-Race Bias in Memory for Faces: A Meta-Analytic Review. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 7, 3-35.

Meissner, C. A., Brigham, J. C., & Butz, D. (2005). Memory for own- and other-race faces: A dual-process approach. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 19, 545-567.

Ng, W. J., & Lindsay, R. C. L. (1994). Cross-race facial recognition: Failure of the contact hypothesis. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 25, 217-232.

Oliver, M.B. (1999). Caucasian viewer’s memory of Black and White criminal suspects in the news. Journal of Communication, 49(3), 46-60.

O’Toole, A. J., Deffenbacher, K. A., Valentin, D., & Abdi, H. (1994). Structural aspects of face recognition and the other-race effect. Memory & Cognition, 22(2), 208-224.

O’Toole, A. J., Peterson, J., & Deffenbacher, K. A. (1996). An ‘other-race effect’ for categorizing faces by sex. Perception, 25, 669-676.

Platz, S. J., & Hosch, H. M. (1988). Cross-racial/ethnic eyewitness identification: A field study. JASP, 18, 972-984.

Rhodes, G., Brake, S., Taylor, K., & Tan, S. (1989). Expertise and configural coding in face recognition. British Journal of Psychology, 80, 313-331.

Ruby, C. L., & Brigham, J. C. (1996). A criminal schema: The role of chronicity, race, and socioeconomic status in law enforcement officials’ perceptions of others. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 26(2), 95-112.

Shepherd, J. W. (1981). Social factors in face recognition. In H. E. G. Davies, & J. Shepherd (Ed.), Perceiving and remembering faces. . London: Academic Press.

Shepherd, J. W. a. D., J. B. (1981). Races and faces: A comparison of the responses of Africans and Europeans to faces of the same and different races. British Journal of Social Psychology., 20, 125-133.

Shepherd, J. W., Deregowski, J. B., and Ellis, H. D. (1974). A cross-cultural study of recognition memory for faces. International Journal of Psychology., 9, 205-211.

Singer, M. S. (1987). Absence of a hemispheric superiority in the recognition of European and Asian faces. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 64, 1237-1238.

Slone, A. E., Brigham, J. C., & Meissner, C. A. (2000). Social and cognitive factors affecting the own-race bias in Whites. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 22, 71-84.

Smith, S. M., Lindsay, R. C. L, & Pryke, Sean. (2000). Postdictors of eyewitness errors: Can false identifications be diagnosed?. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85(4), 542-550.

Smith, Steven M., Lindsay, R. C. L., Pryke, Sean & Dysart, Jennifer E. (2001), Postdictors of Eyewitness Errors: Can False Identifications Be Diagnosed in the Cross-Race Situation? Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 7, 153-169.

Sommers, Samuel R., & Ellsworth, Phoebe C. (2001). White Juror Bias: An Investigation of Prejudice Against Black Defendants in the American Courtroom. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 7, 201-229.

Sporer, Siegfried Ludwig. (2001). Recognizing Faces of Other Ethnic Groups: An Integration of Theories. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 7, 36-97.

Sporer, Siegfried Ludwig. (2001). The Cross-Race Effect: Beyond Recognition of Faces in the Laboratory. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 7, 170-2

Teitelbaum, S., & Geiselman, R. E. (1997). Observer mood and cross-racial recognition of faces. Journal of Cross-cultural Psychology, 28, 93-106.

Thompson J. (2000, June 18). “I was certain, but I was wrong.” New York Times.

Valentine, T. (1991). A unified account of the effects of distinctiveness, inversion, and race on face recognition. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 43A, 161-204.

Valentine, T., & Bruce, V. (1986). The effect of race, inversion, and encoding activity upon face recognition. Acta Psychologica, 61, 259-273.

Valentine, T., & Endo, M. (1992). Towards an exemplar model of faces processing: The effects of race and distinctiveness. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 44a(4), 671-703.

Valentine, T., Chiroro, P., & Dixon, R. (1995). An account of own-race hypothesis based on a ‘face space’ model of face recognition. In T. Valentine (Ed.), Cognitive and computational aspects of face recognition . London: Routledge.

Van Wallendael, L.R. & Kuhn, J.C. (1997). Distinctiveness is in the eye of the beholder: Cross-racial differences in perceptions of faces. Psychological Reports, 80, 35-39.

Wells, Gary L., & Olson, Elizabeth A. (2001). The Other-Race Effect in Eyewitness Identification: What Do We Do About It? Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 7, 230-246.

Willard, S. J. (1992, ). What’s in a face? Exploring Patterns.

Wright, Daniel B., Boyd, Catherine E., & Tredoux, Colin G. (2001). A Field Study of Own-Race Bias in South Africa and England. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 7, 119-132.

Zarate, M. A., & Garza, A. A. (Manuscript). In-group distinctiveness and self affirmation as dual components of prejudice reduction. .

Zarate, M. A., & Smith, E. R. (1990). Person categorization and stereotyping. Social Cognition, 8(2), 161-185.

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