The Reason Why Ang Mos All Look the Same to Us Asians

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When I was tasked to write about this, I was glad because I can greatly relate to this.

I cannot distinguish the faces of westerners because they all look the same to me. But if you say Liam Neeson, I for sure know lah.

But those side characters in a movie or real-life people… Paiseh, I really cannot differentiate.


I’m the sort who watches 10 shows and say guy A, E, G is the same person.

Some people condemn me for not being able to recognize faces so I have decided to read up and see if I can rationalize this “why they all look alike to me” phenomenon.

The Scientific Explanation

Scientists have attributed this to the “other-race effect,” a cognitive circumstance that makes it harder for people of one race to readily recognize individuals of another.

Don’t get me wrong, we are not being racist here. Anyhow, westerners and Asians are not really a comparison of race. But what we are going to look into is useful for us in demystifying this.

Read, “It is the lack of early and meaningful exposure to other groups that often makes it easier for us to quickly identify and remember people of our own ethnicity or race while we often struggle to do the same for others.”


This means that when we were still infants, we are already accustomed to key facial features of people we are exposed to.

Thus, I would come to the conclusion that since I did not grow up being exposed to Westerners, I may find it hard to recognize them. Don’t blame me leh.

So this phrase, “they all look alike to me,” is actually very much scientifically accurate and also claimed by Mr. Roy S. Malpass, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Texas at El Paso who has studied the subject since the 1960s.

If you find yourself with this “problem”, don’t be upset because science has explained it all.

Most importantly, you’re not alone.

Real-life Blunders

A white New York City police officer arrested James Blake, the retired biracial tennis star in a case of mistaken identity.

According to the police, that officer mistook Mr. Blake for a black man suspected of credit card fraud.


Another example saw Samuel L. Jackson, an actor, who was confused with another actor named Laurence Fishburne during a live television interview.

Image: (Samuel L. Jackson, left. Laurence Fishburne, right.)

Lucy Liu, the actress, has also been mistaken for Lisa Ling, a journalist on many occasions.

Image: (Lucy Liu, left. Lisa Ling, left.)

Embarrassing? Definitely. But this is absolutely not a matter of racism and people around the world needs to have some awareness on this.

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