Other Than the Sum: Hispanic and Middle Eastern Categorizations of Black–White Mixed-Race Faces

Gandalf Nicolas, Allison L. Skinner, Cheryl L. Dickter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The racial categorization literature, reliant on forced-choice tasks, suggests that mixed-race targets are often categorized using the parent faces that created the racially mixed stimuli (e.g., Black or White) or their combination (e.g., Black–White multiracial). In the current studies, we introduce a free-response task that allows for spontaneous categorizations of higher ecological validity. Our results suggest that, when allowed, observers often classify Black–White faces into alternative categories (i.e., responses that are neither the parent races nor their combination), such as Hispanic and Middle Eastern. Furthermore, we find that the stereotypes of the various categories that are mapped to racially mixed faces are distinct, underscoring the importance of understanding how mixed-race targets are spontaneously categorized. Our findings speak to the challenges associated with racial categorization in an increasingly racially diverse population, including discrepancies between target racial identities and their racial categorizations by observers as well as variable stereotype application to mixed-race targets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)532-541
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


  • categorization
  • mixed-race
  • multiracials
  • racial ambiguity


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