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The Other-Race Effect

The Big Idea for Wednesday, January 29, 2014

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.


  1. 1 'They All Look Alike': The Other-Race Effect
    Ross Pomeroy Experts' Corner
  2. 2 Why We're at War With Ourselves: Understanding Racism as an Introduction to Psychology
    Daniel Honan Floating University
  3. 3 There's No Place for Racism in the Final Frontier: Star Trek's Brilliant Episode on Discrimination
    Ross Pomeroy Experts' Corner
  4. 4 “Race Is a Lie Built on a Lie”
    Benjamin Jealous

The Other-Race Effect

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