Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Racial blends - easy on the eyes until you categorise

For immediate release:  

Racial blends - easy on the eyes until you categorise

New light has been shed on how our minds judge multi-racial individuals, thanks to a collaborative research project between the University of Otago and the University of California, San Diego.

Professor Jamin Halberstadt, from Otago's Department of Psychology, and his colleague Professor Piotr Winkielman, from UC San Diego, say their studies used blended faces made up from two individuals, one Chinese and one Caucasian.

"Previous research has shown that blended faces, regardless of race, are more usually more attractive than the original faces that go into the blend,” Halberstadt explains.  

"This blending effect is especially evident for cross-race blends, so if you take two people of different races and blend them together then you get a face that is more attractive than the originals. Also, that blend is more attractive than a blend of two faces from the same race."

"Our idea was that these effects might be explainable by 'processing fluency' - how easy it is to perceive, process, and categorise something. Blended faces are ‘easier on the eyes,’ because they are very 'face-like', and this ease creates a positive feeling toward them."

The problem comes when people start viewing racial face blends as not just 'faces' but rather as examples of their racial groups.  In that case, the faces should seem relatively ambiguous, and that ambiguity should translate into negative attitudes.

Halberstadt and Winkielman say their most recently published research, in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, asked participants to first categorise a person's racial group and then judge their attractiveness. They compared the judgments to those of control participants who simply rated the facial blends on their attractiveness without classifying them.

They found that control participants preferred mixed-race faces to single-race faces, but participants who had to first decide if a face was Chinese or Caucasian, judged the mixed race faces to be relatively unattractive.

In a parallel experiment they used electromyography (EMG) to measure facial expressions and found that people were less inclined to smile at the faces presented to them if they had to categorise them first.

Professor Halberstadt says it appears that a blend is attractive as long as you do not have to think about where it came from.

"It comes back to fluency - how easy things are to process in your mind," he says. "When you think of multi-racial individuals as examples of humans they are more appealing because they better capture your overall experience of life. But when you think of them as examples of their racial groups then they become more ambiguous and that ambiguity pulls down their appeal."


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Trade: NZ Trade Deficit Widens To A Record In September

Oct. 27 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's monthly trade deficit widened to a record in September as meat exports dropped to their lowest level in more than three years. More>>


Animal Welfare: Cruel Practices Condemned By DairyNZ Chief

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says cruel and illegal practices are not in any way condoned or accepted by the industry as part of dairy farming.

Tim says the video released today by Farmwatch shows some footage of transport companies and their workers, as well as some unacceptable behaviour by farmers of dragging calves. More>>


Postnatal Depression: 'The Thief That Steals Motherhood' - Alison McCulloch

Post-natal depression is a sly and cruel illness, described by one expert as ‘the thief that steals motherhood’, it creeps up on its victims, hiding behind the stress and exhaustion of being a new parent, catching many women unaware and unprepared. More>>


DIY: Kiwi Ingenuity And Masking Tape Saves Chick

Kiwi ingenuity and masking tape has saved a Kiwi chick after its egg was badly damaged endangering the chick's life. The egg was delivered to Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua 14 days ago by a DOC worker with a large hole in its shell and against all odds has just successfully hatched. More>>


International Trade: Key To Lead Mission To India; ASEAN FTA Review Announced

Prime Minister John Key will lead a trade delegation to India next week, saying the pursuit of a free trade agreement with the protectionist giant is "the primary reason we're going" but playing down the likelihood of early progress. More>>



MYOB: Digital Signatures Go Live

From today, Inland Revenue will begin accepting “digital signatures”, saving businesses and their accountants a huge amount of administration time and further reducing the need for pen and paper in the workplace. More>>

Oil Searches: Norway's Statoil Quits Reinga Basin

Statoil, the Norwegian state-owned oil company, has given up oil and gas exploration in Northland's Reinga Basin, saying the probably of a find was 'too low'. More>>


Modern Living: Auckland Development Blowouts Reminiscent Of Run Up To GFC

The collapse of property developments in Auckland is "almost groundhog day" to the run-up of the global financial crisis in 2007/2008 as banks refuse to fund projects due to blowouts in construction and labour costs, says John Kensington, the author of KPMG's Financial Institutions Performance Survey. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news