Where We Live Affects Our Bias Against Mixed-Race Individuals, Psychology Study Finds

Where We Live Affects Our Bias Against Mixed-Race Individuals, Psychology Study Finds

NYU News
New York University
2016-03-14

Press Contact: James Devitt | (212) 998-6808

Whites living in areas where they are less exposed to those of other races have a harder time categorizing mixed-race individuals than do Whites with greater interracial exposure, a condition that is associated with greater prejudice against mixed-race individuals, a new experimental study shows.

For decades, research has shown that Whites with lower interracial exposure show greater prejudice against Blacks, but the new study finds they also show a greater prejudice against mixed-race individuals‚ÄĒthe fastest growing racial group in the United States.

‚ÄúOur findings show that White individuals with lower interracial exposure tend to exhibit greater prejudice against mixed-race individuals,‚ÄĚ explains Jonathan Freeman, an assistant professor in New York University‚Äôs Department of Psychology and the study‚Äôs lead author. ‚ÄúThe results suggest that this bias arises in individuals with lower interracial exposure because they visually process racially ambiguous faces in a more difficult and unpredictable fashion, and this unstable experience translates into negative biases against mixed-race people.‚ÄĚ

A video outlining the research may be viewed here.

The study’s other authors included Kristin Pauker, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and Diana Sanchez, an associate professor of psychology at Rutgers University.

The research, which appears in the journal Psychological Science, considered two national samples totaling approximately 350 subjects. It determined subjects‚Äô interracial exposure by matching Census data with their zip codes. To gauge subjects‚Äô responses, the researchers relied on an innovative mouse-tracking technique that uses an individual‚Äôs hand movements to reveal unconscious cognitive processes. Unlike surveys, in which individuals can consciously alter their responses, this technique requires respondents to make split-second decisions about others where an unconscious‚ÄĒand more honest‚ÄĒpreference can be uncovered through their hand-motion trajectory…

Read the entire article here.

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