Table of Contents
Journal of Criminology
Volume 2013, Article ID 745836, 6 pages
Research Article

The Cross-Race Effect: Resistant to Instructions

1Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 335 Burnett Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA
2Department of Psychology, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Denver, CO 80217, USA
3Department of Psychology, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX 79968, USA
4Department of Psychology & Institute of Defense and Security, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX 79968, USA

Received 30 October 2012; Revised 10 January 2013; Accepted 11 January 2013

Academic Editor: Augustine Joseph Kposowa

Copyright © 2013 Brian H. Bornstein et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The cross-race effect (CRE) is the tendency for eyewitnesses to be better at recognizing members of their own race/ethnicity than members of other races/ethnicities. It manifests in terms of both better discrimination (i.e., telling apart previously seen from new targets) and a more conservative response criterion for own-race than for other-race faces. The CRE is quite robust and generally resistant to change. Two studies examined the effectiveness of reducing the CRE with special instructions given prior to retrieval. Although instructions at retrieval did change participants’ response criterion—making them less likely to identify test faces as previously seen—they did not shift their response criterion selectively for other-race faces. The findings indirectly support the importance of encoding processes in producing the CRE.