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Old 01-11-2012, 08:28 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 43,116,816 times
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I don't know if this is the right forum for this question, but here goes...

My theory why it's seemingly easier to tell white people apart from one another than other races is simple...the diversity of hair and eye colours among Europeans, and a comparative diversity of hairstyles in western nations. It makes it easier to tell apart people by features other than facial features (e.g. eye colour etc). If everyone has the same hairstyle, eye colour etc it's harder to tell them apart. Which is why I find it just as hard to tell apart say Sicilians as blacks or Asians. In truth, however, I actually find it just as easy to tell apart people of other races once I've been exposed to them for a short while.

Do you think that's the main reason?

 
Old 01-12-2012, 04:23 AM
 
11,686 posts, read 13,074,643 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
I don't know if this is the right forum for this question, but here goes...

My theory why it's seemingly easier to tell white people apart from one another than other races is simple...the diversity of hair and eye colours among Europeans, and a comparative diversity of hairstyles in western nations. It makes it easier to tell apart people by features other than facial features (e.g. eye colour etc). If everyone has the same hairstyle, eye colour etc it's harder to tell them apart. Which is why I find it just as hard to tell apart say Sicilians as blacks or Asians. In truth, however, I actually find it just as easy to tell apart people of other races once I've been exposed to them for a short while.

Do you think that's the main reason?
When I was a youngster we lived in a neighborhood with blacks, and in school there were black kids in every class. Thus, blacks were at that time as easy to tell apart as white. However, overall the black people in town and in school were probably around 5% of the total.

When I moved to a large city with many blacks, and lived in a neighborhood with many blacks it was at first very difficult for me to tell people apart, whereas with whites people seemed more distinctively individual. In a matter of six months or a bit longer, I no longer had that problem with black people. I chalk it up to what you see most of you see most individually, and once you get used to a new, large chunk of something over time you seem the individual in it.

I noticed that several decades later I had the same experience with Chinese and Vietnamese people....I went into a work environment where there were quite a few, and then moved into a neighborhood that was on the edge of Chinatown. These people were very hard for me to see as distinctive individuals at first. But very quickly at work, I visually sorted them out as individuals. And in my neighborhood the same thing occurred after awhile.

But I think it is similar to how we see animal species. To me cows were all the same, seen one cow - you've seen 'em all. But my cousins grew up on a farm, and they could easily pick individual cows out of the herd.
 
Old 01-12-2012, 05:14 AM
 
Location: Kansas
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I agree 100% with kevxu! I just absolutely hate to hear "They all look alike." I grew up in a small town where the black population was about 30%. Moved on and worked with a number of Korean and Vietnamese people. Worked in a large dining facility where probably 90% of the employees were black. I really don't notice color like so many and I am so thankful for my upbringing in that matter, so very thankful.
 
Old 01-12-2012, 05:15 AM
 
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I agree that it depends on what you've been exposed to. I grew up in the Caribbean and went to North America for university and for the life of me I could not tell the whites apart. It was pretty embarassing actually since they were all so friendly to me (as I was a foreign non white student and hence exotic to them I suppose). I made quite a few embarassing blunders for many weeks. The blondes in particular looked indistinguishable lol.
 
Old 01-12-2012, 07:08 AM
 
Location: Visitation between Wal-Mart & Home Depot
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Human babies are able to easily discern the unique facial characteristics of a variety of primates, meaning that when your brain was a blank slate you could easily recognize and recall the differences in appearance between, for example, two howler monkeys, two chimpanzees, two humans, etc. etc. As you begin to imprint on your parents, that ability degrades. Your brain specializes in the facial characteristics of people most like your primary caregivers. Brain physiology plays a part in the tired, old "Black people all look alike" line; it isn't that any racial group looks more similar to one another than any other group, it's that you are best able to discriminate between the faces of your own racial group (or the racial groups you are most exposed to).
 
Old 01-12-2012, 07:30 AM
 
Location: Buxton, England
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I agree. I find that Chinese, Japanese, black, and etc... look much more similar than white people. As to why I don't care, it's just an observation.
 
Old 01-12-2012, 08:01 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 43,116,816 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thewitchisback View Post
I agree that it depends on what you've been exposed to. I grew up in the Caribbean and went to North America for university and for the life of me I could not tell the whites apart. It was pretty embarassing actually since they were all so friendly to me (as I was a foreign non white student and hence exotic to them I suppose). I made quite a few embarassing blunders for many weeks. The blondes in particular looked indistinguishable lol.
I agree it's partly what you're used to, but does anyone have any comment on my hypothesis, that it's easier to tell apart Europeans because of things like eye/hair colour, and also because Europe is diverse in itself? I find it harder to tell apart white folk who are say both blonde or something. Just like two black men with shaved heads will be harder to tell apart.
 
Old 01-12-2012, 08:55 AM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
21,476 posts, read 26,078,274 times
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Default The question is valid

See here for another theory from a psychologist:

Why do 'they all look alike'?

"People are notoriously awful at recognizing faces from other races. It's a human foible often explained by the notion that we have more experience looking at members of our own race and thus acquire "perceptual expertise" for characteristics of our own kind.
One influential version of that hypothesis argues that the so-called cross-race recognition deficit can be modeled by assuming that faces of other races are more psychologically similar than are faces of one's own race. But Daniel Levin, PhD, a cognitive psychologist at Kent State University, has been unsatisfied with that argument.
'The perceptual expertise position is pretty intuitive, and it makes sense,' he says. 'But I'm arguing that it's not really the case. The problem is not that we can't code the details of cross-race faces--it's that we don't.' "
 
Old 01-12-2012, 09:11 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 43,116,816 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suzy_q2010 View Post
See here for another theory from a psychologist:

Why do 'they all look alike'?

"People are notoriously awful at recognizing faces from other races. It's a human foible often explained by the notion that we have more experience looking at members of our own race and thus acquire "perceptual expertise" for characteristics of our own kind.
One influential version of that hypothesis argues that the so-called cross-race recognition deficit can be modeled by assuming that faces of other races are more psychologically similar than are faces of one's own race. But Daniel Levin, PhD, a cognitive psychologist at Kent State University, has been unsatisfied with that argument.
'The perceptual expertise position is pretty intuitive, and it makes sense,' he says. 'But I'm arguing that it's not really the case. The problem is not that we can't code the details of cross-race faces--it's that we don't.' "
It makes total sense. If you grow up in a place where whites are the majority you won't think of them as 'whites', but merely as 'people', whereas you think of blacks as black and asians as asian.
 
Old 01-13-2012, 10:52 PM
 
Location: Not where you ever lived
11,544 posts, read 25,070,616 times
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STOP IT! This pareticular thread is NOT RACIST of hateful or mean-spirited. This is not a political issue, a white issue, a one-country issue. And Genealogy is about people. ALL humans have a skin tone. Thank your parents.

It is being discussed by members from around the globe. If you do not like it MOVE ON. If you have something positive to contribute please do. If you wish to stay and learn, please do.


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