The power of identity to motivate face memory in biracial individuals

Kristin Pauker, Nalini Ambady, Jonathan B. Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The authors examined whether biracial (Black/White) individuals, who have access to multiple racial identities and experience with both Black and White faces, would be able to adopt the perceptual lens of a contextually salient racial identity. Biracial and monoracial perceivers wrote an essay about a time they connected with their mother's or father's ethnic identity before completing a face recognition task. The authors hypothesized that this essay prime would influence biracial perceivers' racial identification and that their memory for Black, White, and racially ambiguous faces would reflect the motivational relevance of the target face to their salient racial identity. Results indicated that biracial individuals adopted different racial identifications to guide preferential memory relevant to their salient racial identity, exhibiting memory patterns comparable to monoracial individuals' typical own-race bias. These findings suggest that ingroup memory effects depend on integration of bottom-up perceptual experience and topdown factors, such as the social relevance of faces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)780-791
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Cognition
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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