The social-encoding benefit in face recognition is generalized to other-race faces

Linoy Schwartz, Michal Cohen, Shan Xu, Jia Liu, Galit Yovel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Faces are visual stimuli that convey rich social information. Previous experiments found better recognition for faces that were evaluated based on their social traits than on their perceptual features during encoding. Here, we ask whether this social-encoding benefit in face recognition is also found for categories of faces that we have no previous social experience with, such as other-race faces. To answer this question, we first explored whether social and perceptual evaluations for other-race faces are consistent and valid. We then asked whether social evaluations during encoding improve recognition for other-race faces. Results show that social and perceptual evaluations of own- and other-race faces were valid. We also found high agreement in social and perceptual evaluations across individuals from different races. This indicates that evaluations of other-race faces are not random but meaningful. Furthermore, we found that social evaluations facilitated face recognition regardless of race, demonstrating a social-encoding benefit for both own- and other-race faces. Our findings highlight the role of social information in face recognition and show how it can be used to improve recognition of categories of faces that are hard to recognize due to lack of experience with them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-229
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - May 2023


FundersFunder number


    • experience
    • face recognition
    • level of processing
    • other-race effect
    • recognition memory
    • social cognition


    Dive into the research topics of 'The social-encoding benefit in face recognition is generalized to other-race faces'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this