On the ideology of hypodescent

Political conservatism predicts categorization of racially ambiguous faces as Black

Amy R. Krosch, Leslie Berntsen, David Amodio, John Jost, Jay Van Bavel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

According to the principle of hypodescent, multiracial individuals are categorized according to their most socially subordinate group membership. We investigated whether the tendency to apply this principle is related to political ideology. In three studies, participants categorized a series of morphed faces that varied in terms of racial ambiguity. In each study, self-reported conservatism (vs. liberalism) was associated with the tendency to categorize ambiguous faces as Black. Consistent with the notion that system justification motivation helps to explain ideological differences in racial categorization, the association between conservatism and hypodescent was mediated by individual differences in opposition to equality (Study 2) and was stronger when U.S. participants categorized American than Canadian faces (Study 3). We discuss ways in which the categorization of racially ambiguous individuals in terms of their most subordinate racial group may exacerbate inequality and vulnerability to discrimination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1196-1203
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume49
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2013

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conservatism
Politics
ideology
political ideology
liberalism
Individuality
group membership
Motivation
equality
vulnerability
opposition
discrimination
Group

Keywords

  • Face perception
  • Hypodescent
  • Political ideology
  • Political orientation
  • Racial categorization
  • System justification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

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abstract = "According to the principle of hypodescent, multiracial individuals are categorized according to their most socially subordinate group membership. We investigated whether the tendency to apply this principle is related to political ideology. In three studies, participants categorized a series of morphed faces that varied in terms of racial ambiguity. In each study, self-reported conservatism (vs. liberalism) was associated with the tendency to categorize ambiguous faces as Black. Consistent with the notion that system justification motivation helps to explain ideological differences in racial categorization, the association between conservatism and hypodescent was mediated by individual differences in opposition to equality (Study 2) and was stronger when U.S. participants categorized American than Canadian faces (Study 3). We discuss ways in which the categorization of racially ambiguous individuals in terms of their most subordinate racial group may exacerbate inequality and vulnerability to discrimination.",
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