Humans are notoriously poor at distinguishing between the members of races different from our own. This psychological shortcoming, known as the Other-Race Effect, is not necessarily fueled by racist thinking.
In fact, studies have found that racial attitudes don’t predict performance in cross-race identification tasks. Prejudiced and non-prejudiced people are equally likely to fall victim to the other-race effect.
In today's lesson, Ross Pomeroy looks at the real-world, life and death implications of the Other-Race Effect, and how it might be minimized. Recent research points to a sensitive period in which the effect develops. If infants regularly see and interact with people of other races before nine months of age, the Other-Race Effect may never emerge. For those who are already inept at distinguishing between people of other ethnicities, research also show that the Other-Race Effect can be prevented, attenuated, and even reversed.