Constructing race: How people categorize others and themselves in racial terms

Gandalf Nicolas, Allison L. Skinner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


Racial categorization is a ubiquitous phenomenon in our judgments and perceptions of ourselves and others. Decades of research in social psychology have shown the complexities of this process and well-equipped researchers have tackled the nuances of categorical judgments of race. The current chapter reviews some of the history and recent developments in the study of predictors and determinants of racial categorization, with a special emphasis on the factors that can sway categorizations of racially ambiguous targets. Some of the factors addressed include target characteristics (e.g., racial phenotypicality and ancestry), contextual elements (e.g., stereotypical cues), and observer characteristics (e.g., personality, familiarity with other races, and developmental maturity). We conclude with an exploration of some of the exciting methodological and theoretical frontiers, providing our perspective on the future of the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Categorization in Cognitive Science
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9780081011072
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)


  • Multiracials
  • Race
  • Racial ambiguity
  • Racial categorization
  • Social categorization


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