Attention and Working Memory Biases to Black and Asian Faces During Intergroup Contexts.

Research paper by Guadalupe D S GDS Gonzalez, David M DM Schnyer

Indexed on: 29 Jan '19Published on: 29 Jan '19Published in: Frontiers in psychology


Categorizing and individual as a racial ingroup or outgroup member results in processing and memory differences. However, despite processing differences for racial ingroups and outgroups, very little is known about processing of racial ingroup and outgroup members during intergroup contexts. Thus, the present research investigated attention and memory differences for racial ingroup and outgroup members during competition for attention (i.e., intergroup contexts). In experiment 1, event-related potentials (ERPs) were obtained while participants completed a working memory task that presented 4 faces (2 Black, 2 White) at once then, following a short delay, were probed to indicate the spatial location of one of the faces. Participants showed better location memory for Black than White faces. During encoding, ERP results revealed differences based on the race of the face in P300 amplitudes, such that there was greater motivated processing when attending to Black faces. At probe, the N170 indicated enhanced early processing of Black faces and greater LPCs were associated with better recollection of Black face location. In a follow-up study using the same task, we examined attention and working memory biases for Asian and White faces in Caucasian and Asian participants. Results for both Caucasian and Asian participants indicated better working memory for Asian relative to White faces. Together, results indicate that during intergroup contexts, racial minority faces capture attention, resulting in better memory for those faces. The study underscores that examining racial biases with single stimuli paradigms obscures important aspects of attention and memory biases during intergroup contexts.