A cross-race effect in metamemory: Predictions of face recognition are more accurate for members of our own race

Kathleen L. Hourihan, Aaron S. Benjamin, Xiping Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Cross-Race Effect (CRE) is the well-replicated finding that people are better at recognizing faces from their own race, relative to other races. The CRE reveals systematic limitations on eyewitness identification accuracy, suggesting that some caution is warranted in evaluating cross-race identification. The CRE is problematic because jurors value eyewitness identification highly in verdict decisions. We explore how accurate people are in predicting their ability to recognize own-race and other-race faces. Caucasian and Asian participants viewed photographs of Caucasian and Asian faces, and made immediate judgments of learning during study. An old/new recognition test replicated the CRE: both groups displayed superior discriminability of own-race faces. Importantly, relative metamnemonic accuracy was also greater for own-race faces, indicating that the accuracy of predictions about face recognition is influenced by race. This result indicates another source of concern when eliciting or evaluating eyewitness identification: people are less accurate in judging whether they will or will not recognize a face when that face is of a different race than they are. This new result suggests that a witness's claim of being likely to recognize a suspect from a lineup should be interpreted with caution when the suspect is of a different race than the witness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-162
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012


  • Cross-race effect
  • Eyewitness memory
  • Face recognition
  • Metamemory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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