Ingroup categorization affects the structural encoding of other-race faces: evidence from the N170 event-related potential

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The current research examined the influence of ingroup/outgroup categorization on brain event-related potentials measured during perceptual processing of own- and other-race faces. White participants performed a sequential matching task with upright and inverted faces belonging either to their own race (White) or to another race (Black) and affiliated with either their own university or another university by a preceding visual prime. Results demonstrated that the right-lateralized N170 component evoked by test faces was modulated by race and by social category: the N170 to own-race faces showed a larger inversion effect (i.e., latency delay for inverted faces) when the faces were categorized as other-university rather than own-university members; the N170 to other-race faces showed no modulation of its inversion effect by university affiliation. These results suggest that neural correlates of structural face encoding (as evidenced by the N170 inversion effects) can be modulated by both visual (racial) and nonvisual (social) ingroup/outgroup status.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-248
Number of pages14
JournalSocial neuroscience
Issue number3
Early online date7 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2014


  • Configural/holistic processing, Cross-race effect, Ingroup/outgroup categorization, N170 event-related potential, Other-race effect, Own-race bias, Structural encoding

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