Prof. Shihui Han: Priority of racial and gender categorization of faces: A social task demand framework.


Social categorization of faces occurs along multiple dimensions such as race and gender and influences interpersonal interactions widely. Does social categorization of faces along different dimensions take place in parallel or give priority to some faces along a specific dimension? Across seven studies, we proposed and empirically tested a social task demand hypothesis that social categorization of a particular group of faces occurs in priority along one dimension (race or gender) in response to specific social task demands. Study 1 showed behavioral evidence that other-race faces are more densely clustered into one category, whereas same-race faces are more distantly separated into two (male and female) categories. Studies 2–4 showed electrophysiological evidence for earlier spontaneous racial categorization of other-race faces but earlier spontaneous gender categorization of same-race faces during an individual face recognition task. Studies 5–7 manipulated social task demands and provided electrophysiological evidence that early processes underlying racial or gender categorization of other-race or same-race faces were inhibited or facilitated by task demands of evaluating gender roles or group membership of perceived faces. Our findings indicate that the priority of racial or gender categorization of other-race or same-race faces varies dynamically to meet social task demands of managing intergroup and cross-sex interactions. 

 Original link: