Dr Woo Pei Jun Presented Her Research in Malaysian Psychology Student Assembly (MAPSA) 2022 Conference

Malaysian Psychology Student Assembly (MAPSA) 2022 conference was recently held at University of Nottingham, Malaysia on 26 March 2022. The conference provides undergraduate and postgraduate psychology students opportunities to showcase their research work and to meet psychology students from other universities in Malaysia.

Dr Woo Pei Jun, Head of Psychology Department, Sunway University was invited to give a plenary session on her research area on face perception. Her presentation titled “Face Processing in a Multiracial Environment: Differential Experience in Face Recognition and Face Categorisation”. Dr Woo shared with the conference participants how experience with different people modulates the way we remember and recognize faces. “Do you find it difficult to distinguish individuals from another race because they all look the same to you? Well, this is a phenomenon known as the Other Race Effect (ORE)” explains Dr Woo. Dr Woo’s studies found that the ORE happens not because we have difficulty recognizing members of other races, but it is because of our lesser experience of viewing these faces. Her studies with Malaysian infants found that babies demonstrate the other race effect at 4 months of age but as they grow older and have exposure to other races within their environment, this effect diminishes. In another study with Malaysian adults, she found that both Malaysian Chinese and Malays had no trouble recognizing faces of both races indicating that Malaysians who have adequate exposure to other races do not experience the ORE effect.

Right before the conference, Dr Woo contracted Covid-19 but was still able to present her plenary talk via the virtual plenary event. “I am happy to be able to share my research findings with the participants and hopefully have spurred interest among the psychology students. Because of the pandemic, all of us are wearing masks which have not only impacted the way we recognize people but also how we read people’s emotions and communicate. Hence, research in face perception can help us further understand how masks impact the way we recognize and read emotions.”

Another psychology staff member, Dr Lee Ai Suan also conducted an eye tracking workshop for the conference participants. 30 psychology students from different universities attended Dr Lee’s workshop and learned how eye tracking is applied in various settings such as research, industry, and clinical settings. Dr Lee demonstrated the use of Tobii T60 eye tracker in building experiments, drawing Area of Interest, and analyzing heatmaps of results.

“It was an incredible experience to give the workshop at my alma matter. Walking around the beautiful campus brought back many memories of my postgraduate university days. It is nice to be able to contribute and impart knowledge with the next generation of psychology students” said Dr Lee.