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Study: Conservatives More Likely Than Liberals to Perceive Mixed-Race People as Black

Conservatives and liberals perceive mixed-race or racially ambiguous people differently, according to new study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Using three experiments, “we found that conservatives were more likely than liberals to categorize a racially ambiguous person as black than white,” said psychologist and lead researcher, Amy Krosch at New York University.

As noted by Salon, researchers studied responses from participants who self-reported as either conservative or liberal. They found hypodescent correlated with participants who identified as conservative. Hypodescent refers to the automatic assigning of a mixed-race person to whichever ethnic group is socially subordinate.

The report, titled, “On the Ideology of Hypodescent: Political Conservatism Predicts Categorization of Racially Ambiguous Face as Black,” was published just after a recent Cheerio’s commercial garnered widespread criticism over the use of an interracial couple and a mixed-race child.

“We felt like we were reflecting an American family,” Camille Gibson, vice president of marketing for Cheerios, told the Associated Press.

The study divided up participants into conservatives and liberals based on a seven-point scale that ranged from extreme liberalism to extreme conservatism. Then, participants were asked to quickly identify if 110 male faces, which were created by the combining of two parent faces, were black or white.

The first study included whites only, the second had several non-whites but no blacks. In both, the participants labeled the faces as black long before the parent faces combined.

The third experiment had all white participants. This time racially ambiguous faces were categorized as either Canadian or American. Suddenly, given the suggestion that the faces were not American, the conservatives were more hesitant to label the faces black.

The results showed "political conservatism was associated with a lower threshold for categorizing racially ambiguous faces as black when it came to American, but not Canadian, faces."

The number of mixed-race people is growing in the United States increasing 32 percent from 2000 to 2010, according to a Census Bureau report.

Source: Salon,


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