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Infant attention to same- and other-race faces


We recorded visual attention to same- and other-race faces in Hispanic and White 11-month-old infants, an age at which face processing is presumably biased by an own-race recognition advantage. Infants viewed pairs of faces differing in race or ethnicity as their eye movements were recorded. We discovered consistently greater attention to Black over Hispanic faces, to Black faces over White faces, and to Hispanic over White faces. Inversion of face stimuli, and infant ethnicity, had little effect on performance. Infants' social environments, however, differed sharply according to ethnicity: Hispanic infants are almost exclusively exposed to Hispanic family members, and White infants to White family members. Moreover, Hispanic infants inhabit communities that are more racially and ethnically diverse. These results imply that race-based visual attention in infancy is closely aligned with the larger society's racial and ethnic composition, as opposed to race-based recognition, which is more closely aligned with infants' immediate social environments.

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