Effects of encoding tasks on the own-age face recognition bias

Jason L. Randall, Holly E. Tabernik, Aisha M. Aguilera, Jeffrey S. Anastasi, Kendra V. Valk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In the current study, we evaluated the own-age face recognition bias by using various encoding tasks to evaluate the robustness and potential limitations of the own-age bias. One hundred sixty young adults studied photographs of children, young adults, middle-aged adults, and older adults and were assigned to one of four encoding conditions (i.e., age estimate, attractiveness rating, friendliness rating, and a face search task). Subsequent recognition tests revealed a robust own-age bias such that participants recognized own-age faces better than other-age faces regardless of encoding task. The current study showed that encoding tasks that focus on socially relevant characteristics (i.e., attractiveness ratings and friendliness ratings) do not eliminate or weaken the own-age bias compared to tasks that specifically focus on the age of the face. These findings indicate that in-group/out-group categorization requires little conscious processing and may be automatic, which is consistent with Sporer's (2001) in-group/out-group model (IOM) of facial processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-67
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of General Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • encoding
  • face recognition
  • in-group/out-group
  • own-age bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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