The other-race effect (ORE) can be described as difficulties in discriminating between faces of ethnicities other than one’s own, and can already be observed at approximately 9 months of age. Recent studies also showed that infants visually explore same-and other-race faces differently. However, it is still unclear whether infants’ looking behavior for same- and other-race faces is related to their face discrimination abilities. To investigate this question we conducted a habituation–dishabituation experiment to examine Caucasian 9-month-old infants’ gaze behavior, and their discrimination of same- and other-race faces, using eye-tracking measurements. We found that infants looked longer at the eyes of same-race faces over the course of habituation, as compared to other-race faces. After habituation, infants demonstrated a clear other-race effect by successfully discriminating between same-race faces, but not other-race faces. Importantly, the infants’ ability to discriminate between same-race faces significantly correlated with their fixation time towards the eyes of same-race faces during habituation. Thus, our findings suggest that for infants old enough to begin exhibiting the ORE, gaze behavior during habituation is related to their ability to differentiate among same-race faces, compared to other-race faces.
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