Cross-Cultural Examinations of Children’s Perceptions of Racially Ambiguous Asian/White Faces



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Race is a salient social category that influences how people interact, but this becomes more complex for individuals of mixed race heritage are viewed because they belong to multiple racial in-groups and often appear racially ambiguous. Previous research on perceptions of biracial individuals has focused on those of mixed Black/White heritage, so comparatively less is known about how others perceive people of mixed Asian/White heritage, a significant subset of the multiracial population. Additionally, this work has yet to be extended cross-culturally which would give the field insight into the degree to which context influences these perceptions. This study examined how children aged 3-7 years in Durham, North Carolina, and Taichung, Taiwan, perceived ambiguous race Asian/White faces through a forced-choice categorization task and coloring activity to assess skin tone biases. White American children were significantly more likely to categorize the Asian/White faces as appearing more Asian while Asian American and Taiwanese children did not demonstrate any biases. Additionally, American children were more likely to select darker crayons than Taiwanese children in the coloring task, indicating an effect of cultural context on skin tone biases. Within Asian American children, South Asian children used significantly darker crayons than East Asian children, a comparison not commonly explored in research. There was also a negative correlation between age and degree of skin tone bias regardless of race, demonstrating that children’s views of race become more holistic in this age range. Through the use of faces of real biracial people as stimuli, this study had greater external validity than previous research and extended this paradigm to a non-Western sample.





Neal, Samantha (2018). Cross-Cultural Examinations of Children’s Perceptions of Racially Ambiguous Asian/White Faces. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from

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