NYU Study Finds That Political Ideology Affects a Person’s Racial Classifications

nyu-iconResearchers at New York University have published a study which shows that people who are conservative politically are more likely to classify mixed-race individuals as Black than people who hold liberal political views. Participants in the study were shown a series of 110 faces that were morphed from real-world Black and White faces and asked to identify the images as either Black or White. The results showed that those whose political views were more conservative were more likely than liberals to identify the faces of mixed-race people as white.

The authors also found that racial categorization is not simply a perspective exhibited by Whites. Instead, the racial categorizations would appear to be more a reflection of system-justifying biases. That is, conservatives of any race may maintain traditional boundaries associated with the hierarchical social order — and, as a result, they categorize multiracial individuals in the most socially subordinate group.

“A person’s race is often thought to be clear-cut and fixed,” explains Amy Krosch, a doctoral student in New York University’s Department of Psychology and the lead author of the paper. “However, our research suggests that the perception of a person as Black or White is related to one’s political views and beliefs about equality.”

The study, “On the Ideology of Hypodescent: Political Conservatism Predicts Categorization of Racially Ambiguous Faces as Black,” was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, and may be accessed here.

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