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The India Face Set: International and Cultural Boundaries Impact Face Impressions and Perceptions of Category Membership

  • Lakshmi, Anjana1
  • Wittenbrink, Bernd2
  • Correll, Joshua3
  • Ma, Debbie S.4
  • 1 Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL , (United States)
  • 2 Booth School of Business, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL , (United States)
  • 3 Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO , (United States)
  • 4 Department of Psychology, California State University, Northridge, Los Angeles, CA , (United States)
Published Article
Frontiers in Psychology
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Feb 11, 2021
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.627678
PMID: 33643159
PMCID: PMC7905305
PubMed Central


This paper serves three specific goals. First, it reports the development of an Indian Asian face set, to serve as a free resource for psychological research. Second, it examines whether the use of pre-tested U.S.-specific norms for stimulus selection or weighting may introduce experimental confounds in studies involving non-U.S. face stimuli and/or non-U.S. participants. Specifically, it examines whether subjective impressions of the face stimuli are culturally dependent, and the extent to which these impressions reflect social stereotypes and ingroup favoritism. Third, the paper investigates whether differences in face familiarity impact accuracy in identifying face ethnicity. To this end, face images drawn from volunteers in India as well as a subset of Caucasian face images from the Chicago Face Database were presented to Indian and U.S. participants, and rated on a range of measures, such as perceived attractiveness, warmth, and social status. Results show significant differences in the overall valence of ratings of ingroup and outgroup faces. In addition, the impression ratings show minor differentiation along two basic stereotype dimensions, competence and trustworthiness, but not warmth. We also find participants to show significantly greater accuracy in correctly identifying the ethnicity of ingroup faces, relative to outgroup faces. This effect is found to be mediated by ingroup-outgroup differences in perceived group typicality of the target faces. Implications for research on intergroup relations in a cross-cultural context are discussed.

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