Seeing Race, Not Individuals

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 17 2011 @ 5:10pm

by Patrick Appel

During the Olympics in China, Steve Parry was mistaken for Michael Phelps. Heather Lucas explains how this sort of thing happens and how we can combat it:

People who have extensive and frequent interactions with other people of a certain race tend to be better at remembering faces from that racial group. Interracial contact early in life might be particularly beneficial, but increasing other-race contact as an adult also seems to benefit face recognition. One caveat, however, is that contact only seems to help when it involves interacting with others on an individual level. Exposure to other-race faces that does not necessitate distinguishing among individuals may not have as much of an impact.