Studies show that distinctive (e. g., attractive) people are better remembered than typical people (B. L. Cutler & S. D. Penrod, 1995). We investigated the effect of a Black person's presence on recognition accuracy for surrounding White individuals. Regarding eyewitness accuracy for an event, we expected more errors for White targets accompanied by Black confederates (experimental condition) than by White confederates (control). A staged accident was witnessed by participants, followed by a lineup. In 3 experiments, identification accuracy decreased in the experimental conditions, relative to control. Further data suggested that attention focused on the Black confederate reduced memory for the other confederates at the event. This pattern did not generalize to a condition substituting garish hair color for race, suggesting that racial distinctiveness, rather than general physical distinctiveness, contributed to the prior results.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Psychiatry and Mental health