Why We Stare, Even When We Don’t Want To “When a face is distorted, we have no pattern to match that,” Rosenberg said. “All primates show this [staring] at something very different, something they have not evolved to see. They need to investigate further. ‘Are they one of us or not?’ In other species, when an animal looks very different, they get rejected.” The article is about why humans stare at disfigurements, but it may say something about why we stare at anyone who seems different. Previously: Seeing race: the Other-Race Effect.
Seeing race: the Other-Race Effect. Why do so many people think people of other races look alike? Babies as young as three months old "tend to recognize faces from their own race better than those from other races," but "babies raised with frequent exposure to people of other races don’t develop this early bias." The Other-Race Effect, aka the Cross-Race Effect, "carries practical implications for cases of mistaken eyewitness identification." A follow-up study with Chinese babies confirmed the effect, and notes that it can change: "Korean adults who were adopted by French families during their childhood (aged 3–9 years) demonstrated the same discrimination deficit for Korean faces shown by the native French population." Yes, you have to be carefully taught.