One of us? how facial and symbolic cues to own- versus other-race membership influence access to perceptual awareness

Jie Yuan, Xiaoqing Hu*, Jian Chen, Galen V. Bodenhausen, Shimin Fu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Information that conveys racial group membership plays a powerful role in influencing people's information processing including perceptual, memory and evaluative judgments. Yet whether own- and other-race information can differentially impact people's perceptual awareness at a preconscious level remains unclear. Employing a breaking continuous flash suppression (b-CFS) paradigm, we investigated whether compared with other-race stimuli, participants’ own-race stimuli would be prioritized to gain privileged access to perceptual awareness. Across five experiments (N = 136), we firstly found that participants’ own-race faces enjoyed privileged access to perceptual awareness (Experiment 1). In Experiments 2–5, we employed an associative training task to establish associations between otherwise arbitrary visual stimuli and own- vs. other-racial groups. Although otherwise arbitrary visual stimuli were prioritized to represent one's own race (vs. other-race) during the training, own- and other-race representing stimuli did not differ in their potency in entering perceptual awareness. This dissociation was further corroborated by Bayesian analyses and an internal meta-analysis. Taken together, our findings suggest that people's perceptual expertise with their own-race members’ faces plays a determining role in shaping perceptual awareness. In contrast, newly learned race-representing stimuli did not influence early perceptual selection processes as indicated by the time they take to emerge into perceptual awareness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-27
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • Associative training
  • Breaking continuous flash suppression (b-CFS)
  • Face processing
  • Interocular suppression
  • Own-race bias
  • Perceptual awareness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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