Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 596–604 | Cite as

Systems Factorial Technology provides new insights on the other-race effect

  • Cheng-Ta Yang
  • Mario Fifić
  • Ting-Yun Chang
  • Daniel R. Little
Brief Report


The other-race effect refers to the difficulty of discriminating between faces from ethnic and racial groups other than one’s own. This effect may be caused by a slow, feature-by-feature, analytic process, whereas the discrimination of own-race faces occurs faster and more holistically. However, this distinction has received inconsistent support. To provide a critical test, we employed Systems Factorial Technology (Townsend & Nozawa in Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 39, 321–359, 1995), which is a powerful tool for analyzing the organization of mental networks underlying perceptual processes. We compared Taiwanese participants’ face discriminations of both own-race (Taiwanese woman) and other-race (Caucasian woman) faces according to the faces’ nose-to-mouth separation and eye-to-eye separation. We found evidence for weak holistic processing (parallel processing) coupled with the strong analytic property of a self-terminating stopping rule for own-race faces, in contrast to strong analytic processing (serial self-terminating processing) for other-race faces, supporting the holistic/analytic hypothesis.


Other-race effect Holistic/analytic hypothesis Face perception Systems factorial technology 


Author note

This work was supported by grants from the National Science Council (NSC 102-2628-H-006-001-MY3 to C.-T.Y.) and National Cheng Kung University (an NCKU Rising-Star Top-Notch Project Grant to C.-T.Y.), as well as by Grant ARC DP160102360 to D.R.L.

Supplementary material

13423_2017_1305_MOESM1_ESM.docx (418 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 417 kb)


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cheng-Ta Yang
    • 1
  • Mario Fifić
    • 2
  • Ting-Yun Chang
    • 1
    • 3
  • Daniel R. Little
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNational Cheng Kung UniversityTainanTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyGrand Valley State UniversityAllendaleUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  4. 4.Melbourne School of Psychological SciencesMelbourneAustralia

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