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You know that whole “all Asians look alike” thing? Well, it works both ways…

It might not seem very polite, or indeed politically correct, to admit to having trouble telling people of an unfamiliar race apart, but in truth it happens more often than you might think.

Just last weekend, a friend and I were reminiscing about when, many years ago when we were both employed as teachers in rural Fukushima, a 13-year-old student earnestly asked his homeroom teacher—without so much as a trace of a smile on his face—how to tell the difference between us. Indeed, foreigners living in Japan often exchange stories of being mistaken for other people purely because they happen to be of the same race, and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told by well-meaning coworkers that “I saw you at the supermarket last weekend,” when I was, in fact, nowhere near the place.

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 15.55.52YouTube/sw yoon

It’s hard to get too upset when this happens, though, since there’s a big difference between someone being wilfully racist and making a genuine mistake. It’s not a term that we hear especially often, but the Cross-Race Effect, or Cross-Race Bias as it’s sometimes known, is a very real thing and refers, in part, to “the tendency to more easily recognize members of one’s own race” and having more difficulty telling apart those of a race with which we are less familiar. The Effect is especially common, some studies have found, in largely homogeneous countries where people have less exposure to individuals of other races.

▼ Yeah, it’s not…

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 15.07.17YouTube/sw yoon

YouTube channel sw yoon recently conducted a self-confessed “crappy experiment” to find out just how much trouble Koreans have telling westerners apart, asking participants to sort photos of numerous, predominantly white, celebrities into piles, grouping pictures of the same person together. The result? Well, you can probably imagine by this point…

This is, of course, all just for fun and not a truly scientific test (and some of the celebrities they chose are, even to a Westerner’s eyes, really similar-looking), but we think you’ll agree that it’s both genuinely interesting and also rather refreshing to see the flip-side of the coin for a change. Enjoy!

Oh, and for those who weren’t entirely sure, sw yoon has kindly provided the answers to this quiz:

Answers!
round 1
1,4,5 – Zooey Deschanel
2,3,6 – katy perry

round2
1,4 – Amber Laura Heard
2 – Scarlett Ingrid Johansson
3,5,6 – Taylor Swift

round3
1,2 – jeffrey dean morgan
3,4,5 – Javier Bardem

round4
1 – Jodie Foster
2,4,6 – Natalie Portman
3,5 – Keira Knightley

Source/top image: YouTube/sw yoon

More from Korea:

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