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The role of skin color and facial physiognomy in racial categorization: Moderation by implicit racial attitudes

Authors
Journal
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
0022-1031
Publisher
Elsevier
Volume
48
Issue
4
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2012.02.019
Keywords
  • Racial Categorization
  • Racial Typicality
  • Implicit Racial Attitude
  • Skin Color
  • Facial Physiognomy

Abstract

Abstract Previous research has not sufficiently addressed factors that define and moderate racial categorization judgments. This study independently manipulated skin color and facial physiognomy to determine their relative weighting in racial categorization. Participants (N=250) judged faces varying on 10 levels of facial physiognomy (from Afrocentric to Eurocentric) and 10 levels of skin color (from dark to light) under either no time constraints, a modest time constraint, and under a stringent time constraint. Skin color was a powerful predictor of racial typicality ratings at all levels of facial physiognomy, but participants relied upon facial physiognomy more when rating faces of light than dark skin color. Skin color was a more important cue than facial physiognomy under no time constraints, but as time constraints became more severe, skin color's importance decreased, yet it remained a more important cue at extreme physiognomy levels. The relationship between skin color and racial typicality ratings was stronger for those with more negative implicit racial attitudes. These findings suggest the primary role of skin color in racial categorization and underscore the importance of implicit attitudes in explicit categorization judgments.

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