Stable middle-aged face recognition: No moderation of the own-age bias across contexts

Sophie L. Cronin*, Belinda M. Craig, Ottmar V. Lipp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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The own-age bias (OAB) has been proposed to be caused by perceptual expertise and/or social-cognitive mechanisms. Investigations into the role of social cognition have, however, yielded mixed results. One reason for this might be the tendency for research to focus on the OAB in young adults, between young and older adult faces where other-age individuation experience is low. To explore whether social-cognitive manipulations may be successful when observers have sufficient other-age individuation experience, we examined biases involving middle-aged other-age faces and the influence of a context manipulation. Across four experiments, young adult participants were presented with middle-aged faces alongside young or older adult faces to remember. We predicted that in contexts where middle-aged faces were positioned as other-age faces (alongside young adult faces), recognition performance would be worse than when they were positioned as relative own-age faces (alongside older adult faces). However, the context manipulations did not moderate middle age face recognition. This suggests that past findings that context does not change other-age face recognition holds for other-age faces for which observers have higher individuation experience. These findings are consistent with a perceptual expertise account of the OAB but more investigation of the generality of these results is required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-661
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date19 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


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