Some may say it as a joke, others might find it offensive, but it turns out there’s some truth to the idea that people of other races “all look alike.” A new study demonstrates that people have more trouble recognizing faces of people of other races.
While this effect has been observed for almost a hundred years, scientists still don’t fully understand why it happens and who it happens to, explains Ars Technica:
It has been suggested that the other race effect is simply a result of differing amounts of facial variation between races, or varying observational abilities of particular races. However, in this study, subjects of both races showed the same trends, suggesting that the other race effect is a generalized phenomenon experienced by people of more than one race.
Recent work by David Pizarro at Cornell is shedding light the role that race and ethics play in politics, by asking people to sacrifice the lives of either Tyrone Payton or Chip Ellsworth III.
OK, they didn’t really have to sacrifice anyone, but each participant in the study was faced with a variation of the classical ethical dilemma called the “trolley problem.” The trolley problem asks the question: Would you push someone on to the tracks (and kill them) to stop a trolley holding 100 people from crashing (and killing them all)?
The paper (pdf) describes the twist that Pizarro and colleagues put on the trolley question when they asked it to California undergraduates:
Half of the participants received a version of the scenario where the agent could choose to sacrifice an individual named “Tyrone Payton” to save 100 members of the New York Philharmonic, and the other half received a version where the agent could choose to sacrifice “Chip Ellsworth III” to save 100 members of the Harlem Jazz Orchestra.