Systems Factorial Technology provides new insights on the other-race effect

Cheng Ta Yang, Mario Fifić, Ting Yun Chang, Daniel R. Little

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The other-race effect refers to the difficulty of discriminating between faces from ethnic and racial groups other than one’s own. This effect may be caused by a slow, feature-by-feature, analytic process, whereas the discrimination of own-race faces occurs faster and more holistically. However, this distinction has received inconsistent support. To provide a critical test, we employed Systems Factorial Technology (Townsend & Nozawa in Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 39, 321–359, 1995), which is a powerful tool for analyzing the organization of mental networks underlying perceptual processes. We compared Taiwanese participants’ face discriminations of both own-race (Taiwanese woman) and other-race (Caucasian woman) faces according to the faces’ nose-to-mouth separation and eye-to-eye separation. We found evidence for weak holistic processing (parallel processing) coupled with the strong analytic property of a self-terminating stopping rule for own-race faces, in contrast to strong analytic processing (serial self-terminating processing) for other-race faces, supporting the holistic/analytic hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)596-604
Number of pages9
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Face perception
  • Holistic/analytic hypothesis
  • Other-race effect
  • Systems factorial technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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