Background: Recent evidence indicates that infant faces capture attention automatically, presumably to elicit caregiving behavior from adults and leading to greater probability of progeny survival. Elsewhere, evidence demonstrates that people show deficiencies in the processing of other-race relative to own-race faces. We ask whether this other-race effect impacts on attentional attraction to infant faces. Using a dot-probe task to reveal the spatial allocation of attention, we investigate whether other-race infants capture attention.
Principal Findings: South Asian and White participants (young adults aged 18-23 years) responded to a probe shape appearing in a location previously occupied by either an infant face or an adult face; across trials, the race (South Asian/White) of the faces was manipulated. Results indicated that participants were faster to respond to probes that appeared in the same location as infant faces than adult faces, but only on own-race trials.
Conclusions/Significance: Own-race infant faces attract attention, but other-race infant faces do not. Sensitivity to face-specific care-seeking cues in other-race kindenschema may be constrained by interracial contact and experience.