Masters Thesis

The Other-race in Disguise: How Hoodies and Sunglasses Complicate Facial Recognition

There is limited literature on how factors like race and disguise jointly impact eyewitness identification. Both of these factors are very likely to occur simultaneously in a crime in which an eyewitness may need to identify the perpetrator. Researchers agree on the well-established existence of the other-race effect (ORE) Malpass & Kravitz, 1969; Meissner, Susa, & Ross, 2009, and the negative effects of disguises on facial recognition (Righi, Peissig, & Tarr, 2012; Fletcher, Butavicius, & Lee, 2008). the present study sought to explore the relationship between these factors. This study examined facial recognition amongst Asian, White, and Latinx participants using faces from all three races either wearing a disguise (hoodie and sunglasses) or no disguise. to investigate how quality and quantity of interactions with other races impacted facial recognition and the ORE, participants also completed an Interracial Contact Questionnaire. There was a significant main effect for disguise across all participants. Overall, all three races performed poorer on disguise trials than non-disguise regardless of the race of face. the relationship between accuracy and experience with other races was found to be nonsignificant. in the present study, we did not find evidence of the ORE, which may be the result of these disguises decreasing accuracy to below chance levels. It is also possible that an ORE might be found using more sensitive measures of performance. Future studies should consider the limitations of this study to further explore the effect of hoodies on face recognition.


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